Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs and former judge, Marlene Malahoo Forte, is warning gunmen who continue to threaten the lives of law-abiding citizens that there will be no more safe haven for them in Jamaica.
“Your days are numbered because by the time we finish this suite of legislation to come, there will be no hiding place,” declared Malahoo-Forte at Thursday’s session of a two-day police conference that was held to sensitise the members of the constabulary on the new Firearm (Prohibition, Restriction and Regulation) Act, 2022.
The new Act has repealed and replaced the Firearms Act of 1967.
The consequential amendments made to the Offences Against the Person Act will increase penalty provisions for Sections 13, 16 and 17 by including a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years for offences involving the use of a firearm.
In addition, under Section 20(2), the mandatory sentence has been increased from 15 years to 20 years, in keeping with the proposed penalty regime in the current Bill.
In referring to Section 18 under the recently passed Act, Malahoo-Forte said individuals who attempt to drive fear into other persons by professing that they have an illegal firearm can be prosecuted.
“In many communities, you will have the criminals who walk about telling the citizens that they must comply because they have a firearm in their waist and all kind of things,” she stated.
Marlene Malahoo-Forte (file photo)
“I want to say to those who think that it is business as usual, those days are fast disappearing. Every law that is coming out of the Parliament is well thought out,” she warned.
The Government is currently working on a slate of legislations to push back against the reign of terror that has long been on among perpetrators of crime locally.
Submissions are under way on the proposed new Bail Act. Prime Minister Andrew Holness has promised that by early next year there will be the tabling of the Enhanced Security Measures Act (ESMA) in Parliament.
According to Malahoo-Forte, the Government is relentless in its bid to tackle crime and craft strong legislation geared towards protecting all Jamaicans.
“Time is going to be provided to build out the case (against criminals), and if you (criminals) pose a threat by virtue of the liberty guaranteed to you, so that same liberty that is guaranteed to another cannot be enjoyed, believe me, you’re gonna be separated from society, and we will defend the positions that we take,” she charged.
“It doesn’t matter how many times we’re knocked down…,” said Malahoo-Forte, who seemingly took a jab at those criticising legislation that the Government is bringing to tackle crime.
“… We’re going to stand up and try again until the streets of Jamaica become safe for everyone to walk, (and) until the criminal elements have no place to hide, (and) until they understand that Jamaica must become a place of order,” the minister stated.