Jamaica's Prime Minister Says 'Enough is Enough' After Two School Children Were Murdered on Monday

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime Minister Andrew Holness has described as “barbaric and merciless”  the murder of two school boys on Monday evening, adding that  “violence in all its form is abhorrent and must be strongly punished."

The flag of Jamaica is on the hand holding the gun. Military concept.“Our heart goes out to the family and loved ones of the victims of this senseless act of terror, and I am sure that all well-thinking Jamaicans are surrounding the grieving parents of the innocent children with prayers of support and comfort at this sad time,” Holness said.

Police said Justin Perry and his schoolmate Nacholive Smith of the Chetwood Primary School, and an unidentified man, were shot and killed by gunmen while travelling in a taxi on Monday evening in the Flower Hill community of the volatile Salt Spring area, north west of here.

The Salt Spring area is the site of an ongoing gang feud.  Last Friday, gunmen shot and killed six-year-old Arianna Salmon, a grade one student of St Jude’s Primary, along with her grandmother Marie Salmon, 42 and Michael Smith, 34.

Figures released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) show that as of October 28, Jamaica has recorded 1, 159 murders as compared with 1301 for the same period last year.

Last year the island recorded 1,498, slightly up from 1,474 victims a year earlier.

In a statement, Holness said violence in all its forms is abhorrent and must be strongly condemned and punished.

“However, when violence touches our innocent children, who have their entire lives ahead of them, and robs our country of their potential, all of society must stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough!’

Holness said that “this barbaric and merciless act of terror” demonstrates once again that gunmen and gangs are a clear and present threat to the foundations of Jamaica’s free and democratic society.

He said through the wanton use of violence, gangs and gunmen hold entire communities hostage, depriving citizens of their economic livelihood and their rights to move, speak, and associate freely in their communities.

“They violate the ultimate right of every human being, the right to life. However, these gunmen choose to execute their wanton violence indiscriminately in public spaces and on innocent civilians, including children.

“This indiscriminate and random violence not only creates local fear, but also creates a national feeling of insecurity as the probability of being a victim rises for everyone. These gunmen and gang members are not mere criminals; they are like terrorists and should be treated as such.

“It is unfortunate that we not only battle these criminal terrorists, but we must also contend with a narrative that oftentimes seems to offer greater protection to criminals with lighter sentences and preservation of their lives and freedoms, rather than supporting stronger punitive, proactive, and pre-emptive measures against these terrorists while securing redress and restoration for the victims.”

He said his Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration will continue to invest heavily in increasing the capacity and capabilities of the security forces to intercept and interdict criminal terrorists.

“I have no doubt that the perpetrator of this act will be caught in short order by our police. However, this is after the fact of the loss of innocent lives. We must implement tougher measures to create greater deterrence against the commission of these acts of terror.

“This is why we have passed a new Bail Act and a new Firearms Act, which increased the penalty for the possession and use of illegal firearms. And this is why we have before Parliament an amendment to increase the scheme of penalty for murder.”

Prime Minister Holness said that Jamaicans must speak with one voice in condemning “this wanton and brutal murder of our children; likewise, we must also speak with one clear voice that we will apply the penalties with the greatest deterrent effect to the criminal terrorist to ensure that such senseless acts of terror never happen again. Enough is enough”.