The Norwood area in St James and Denham Town in Kingston will be the recipients of a $74.6 million project over the next 12 months, as efforts continue to reduce crime and violence in communities.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang, on Friday (June 17) launched the ‘Reduced Small Arms and Light Weapons in Jamaica’ project at the Jamaica Evangelistic Centre in Norwood Heights, St. James.
The pilot initiative, also known as the Savings Lives Entity (SALIENT) Joint Programme, aims to dismantle the factors that make it possible for the illicit trafficking of firearms and ammunition into the country, as well as address the root cause of violence.
This will be tackled via multiple entry points to include legislation, policy, strategy, training, investigations, law enforcement and data collection.
The project will be spearheaded by the ministry and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In his address, Dr. Chang stated that the project at this time is critical as “over 85 per cent of our homicides are committed with firearms [and] Jamaica has the highest rate of homicide of any democracy.”
He said reducing the supply of arms in Jamaica is crucial to reducing violence in the country and requires a multipronged approach that will include local and international partners.
“Violence and crime do damage to our economy. It is not only what we lose and what it cost us but there is no measure of the level of lost opportunities that criminals, violence and corruption pose on this country,” Dr. Chang said.
“This programme aligns with Jamaica’s goal as outlined, and that is a society which is secure, cohesive and just,” he added.
The ‘Reduced Small Arms and Light Weapons in Jamaica’ project will incorporate four key activities to achieve its objectives.
These include a desk review and situational analysis of Jamaica ‘s current needs and constraints in relation to crime and small arms control; virtual high-level consultations and bilateral meetings with key stakeholders on issues of citizen security and safety in
Jamaica; development of a mission report with recommendations for focus areas for the UN Country Team; and development of the UN Joint Project Document for enhancing citizens’ safety and security in Jamaica to include a focus on armed violence reduction.
Funding for the project is from the SALIENT Fund established by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Organization for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA). The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are also a part of the project.
United Nations Resident Coordinator Dr. Garry Conille, indicated that the UN is committed to working with Jamaica to turn the tide on the illegal use of small arms and the homicide epidemic.
“I, therefore, join the government in calling on Jamaicans everywhere to see themselves as change agents, to reject the urge to participate in the illegal trade of guns and instead, to actively participate in the transformation required to build peace in this small island,” Dr. Conille said.