Jamaica passes anti-gang bill

(Jamaica Gleaner) The political divide in Gordon House yesterday coalesced as parliamentarians signalled their unanimous support for The Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act 2014 (anti-gang bill), which the Government has crafted to dismantle criminal organisations.

Members of the House of Representatives passed the far-reaching piece of legislation with 22 amendments after a spirited debate.

In an impassioned plea to his colleagues and the country to rally behind the tough new statute, Attorney General Patrick Atkinson declared: “This society is tired of gangsters … . It is not just any informal group of young persons; it is this criminal organisation.”

He said the disruption and suppression of criminal organisations is fundamental to solving the country’s violence problem. “If we do not do it, we are lost as a people,” he added.

The attorney general made it clear that the proposed law would not exist in isolation as it was subject to the supremacy of the Constitution and the supervision of the court.

Delroy Chuck, former justice minister, in his contribution to the debate, challenged his parliamentary colleagues to dispense with political capital in order to dismantle criminal gangs.

“In this Parliament, some of us, all of us, will have to be prepared to give up some political capital to dismantle some of these garrisons. I think that we are never going to fully break up the gangs until we agree, between us, both sides and all politicians, that we must free the minds of our members in our communities so that they respect how others exercise their vote.”

He warned against the “fostering” of corner crews, noting that these are the same persons who “come back after the election to demand of us, and it is very difficult for us to say, ‘Go about your business'”.

While Chuck addressed his colleagues, some disagreed, saying, “Speak for yourself.”

Chuck noted that even though the criminal gangs were not created by politicians, they thrived in political garrisons.

He urged the security forces not to go net-fishing when implementing this law, but to use intelligence to target criminal organisations.

Create greater opportunities for youth

West Kingston Member of Parliament Desmond McKenzie urged National Security Minister Peter Bunting, who piloted the legislation, to tackle the importation of drugs and guns, which, he said, helped to fuel gang activities in the country.

Both McKenzie and Dr Horace Chang want the administration to create greater opportunities for young people and to increase social programmes in the inner city.

Chang also urged the Government to quickly complete the justice reform programme.

“We have to find a way to ensure that justice can be attainable. It must not be perceived now, as it is in the inner city, that you have to have big money to find justice. We have to change that. If we do not change that, we will be coming here in three years’ time to look at how we can toughen the law,” he said.

In closing the debate, Bunting addressed detractors of the anti-gang law, saying that many changes had been made since the bill was first promulgated.

“This bill is not a panacea, but it is a significant step forward.”



Chinese construction company told to demolish illegal buildings

(Trinidad Express) Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) has given Shanghai Construc-tion Group (SCG) until noon today to vacate and demolish buildings which have been illegally erected and occupied for more than a year on the eastern side of the National Cycling Velodrome in Couva.

Venezuela ‘congress in resistance’ rejects new super-assembly

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress yesterday rejected the self-proclaimed lawmaking authority of a new legislative body elected last month at the behest of President Nicolas Maduro, widening the political divide in the crisis-hit country.

Brazil’s agents of the Amazon fighting loggers, fires to stop deforestation

APUI, Brazil (Reuters) – The small town of Apui sits at the new frontline of Brazil’s fight against advancing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, where vast forest fires belch jet black smoke visible for miles and loggers denude the jungle.

Mexico’s top diplomat visits Cuba to seek help on Venezuela crisis

MEXICO CITY,  (Reuters) – Mexico’s foreign minister is in Havana hoping to persuade Cuba, one of Venezuela’s top allies, to help resolve the tense political situation in the beleaguered South American nation, according to a senior Mexican official briefed about the trip.

Venezuela’s constituent assembly assumes power to legislate

CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuela’s new legislative superbody yesterday gave itself the power to pass laws, superseding the opposition-led congress and fueling criticism by government adversaries that socialist President Nicolas Maduro is consolidating a dictatorship.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now