Holness: Jamaica's murder rate nearly eight times the global average
Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force on operation in a violent neighbourhood in Kingston. (PHOTO: File)
Jamaica's homicide rate is at an alarming level, with murders being recorded on the island at nearly eight times the global average.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the disclosure as he made his case for imposing a state of emergency in the St Andrew South Police Division during a hastily-called press conference at Jamaica House on Sunday.
He pointed out that the global murder average is six per 100,000; for the Caribbean region, it is 16 per 100,000 - and Jamaica is at 46.2 per 100,000.
“This is an epidemic and there is no one who can tell me that the country should be satisfied with this and not be prepared to take extraordinary measures," Holness said. "I would today want to rubbish this argument that things are normal and that our constitution contemplated this kind of murder rate."
Some 40,829 murders have been committed in Jamaica since 1962. In the last eight years alone, some 11,379 murders were committed.
In the majority of cases, guns have been the weapon of choice. Neither the weapons nor the ammunition that are used to kill are manufactured in Jamaica, yet the island is awash with arms.
Holness was asked if there were any plans by the Government to seek assistance from the United States to help stem the flow of guns into the island.
He responded by pointing out that no matter the outside help, the problem is Jamaica’s.
“The cooperation between both countries can of course be strengthened but Jamaica’s security is Jamaica’s responsibility,” Holness said.
Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson said both countries were working jointly to combat the problem.
“We are working together on transnational investigations into some of the more recent gun finds we have had at the ports,” Anderson said.
According to the statistics presented, the decade between 2000-2009 saw the most number of murders committed with 13,418 persons being killed, while 7,621 murders were committed between 1990 and 1999.
The years 2005, 2009 and 2017 were the bloodiest single years with 1,674, 1,673 and 1,647 respectively.
At present, Jamaica is ranked the third most violent country in the Central American and Caribbean region behind Venezuela and El Salvador.