On Thursday 29 September, Prime Minister Andrew Holness chaired the monthly sitting of the National Security Council (NSC) where the details of the Gun Amnesty that will be introduced as legislated in the new Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction and Regulation) Act were discussed. The Amnesty will follow and run concurrently with a period of intense public education on the provision of the new firearm law and will give persons in possession of illegal firearms, the opportunity to surrender these weapons to the State, without jeopardy of prosecution. It was agreed that the amnesty will not be for an extended period. The Council has directed the Ministry of National Security to begin the roll out of the public education campaign as a matter of priority.
The NSC also reviewed progress on other pieces of legislation to strengthen overall law enforcement, including the Bail Act and the Enhanced Security Measures Act (ESMA).
Briefing on Molly and other dangerous drugs and addictive substances
The NSC received a presentation from the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) highlighting the increased use of psychoactive substances and its deviant effect on our youth, particularly coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent situational assessment undertaken in May 2022 by the NCDA has pointed to a growing trend in the use of methylenedioxymethamphetamine commonly known as ‘Molly’ particularly among the youth and young adults. The NCDA highlighted that the impact of the drug has manifested in increased socially risky and physically dangerous behaviour. Considering the national implications, the Prime Minister has directed that the laws around these psychoactive substances be updated to adequately capture the threat they pose and hold to account the producers and traffickers of the substances.
The NSC was also advised that aside from the risks associated with the psychoactive substance, the vast majority of the drug being sold on the market to unsuspecting users contain other dangerous and toxic synthetic substances which oftentimes have negative long-term effects on the human body. The NSC is therefore using this opportunity to warn Jamaicans, particularly our young people, to stay away from the use of “Molly” and all other forms of drugs.
Gang sponsored capturing of lands in Bernard Lodge
Additionally, the Council received an update on the steady progress being made in the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Area. However, it was highlighted that criminal elements in the area have organized the capturing of sections of the Bernard Lodge property. The NSC expressed grave concerns regarding the emergence of this dimension of the criminal threat to the rule of law and public order. The National Security Council has directed that strong action be taken to halt the illegal capture and squatting in the area. The security forces have increased their presence in the area.
The Commissioner of Police highlighted the major “’Operation Relentless II’ initiative which was recently launched by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), in partnership with the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF). This initiative targets gangs and gangsters involved in violent crimes and the illicit gun trade. Focus will also be given to the associated lottery scamming and narcotics activities that fund these guns.
The Commissioner of Police also updated the Council on its continuing roll out of the Station Records Management System (SRMS) in three Divisional HQs: St. Andrew Central, Kingston Eastern, St. Andrew South and five Police Stations. The SRMS will facilitate electronic recording of reports, complaints, and administrative entries by the Police.
The NSC was also briefed on operational updates from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) and the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), on efforts underway in their respective portfolios for the protection and security of the country.
The Prime Minister reiterated his strong commitment to supporting the security forces with the legislative and policy tools along with the requisite fiscal resources, to make Jamaica a safe and secure country.