Shadow Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Ms Denise Daley, said she was deeply worried about the continued devolution in “the kind of care and compassion that we are known to show towards our most vulnerable and defenseless groups. I am echoing the view of the Opposition Leader that these attacks are further evidence of the severity of the crisis of violence affecting our society. Sadly, unless we bring an end to it collectively, we are heading further into the unknown,” she cautioned.
The St. Catherine Eastern member of parliament said “I experienced a sense of indignation that such a despicable act of savagery could have occurred in the shadows of the Central Police Station, which is situated in the vicinity of the Sutton Street Court.”
The intersection of East Street and Sutton Street, which has become an unofficial encampment for the homeless, was one of the sites of the attacks; the other attacks being in Half Way Tree, and nearby the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Church.
The Shadow Minister noted that such an attack in any democratically governed society would require an immediate investigation and a set of actions to prevent its recurrence. As such, MP Daley emphasized, “we expect the authorities to move swiftly to determine what exactly transpired, and that the monsters responsible for these heinous attacks against the homeless will be brought to justice.”
Daley said the government must contemplate implementing specific actions to protect the homeless and offer a civilized alternative to their current living condition, including better monitoring of the areas frequented or used as encampment by these homeless citizens. “We ought to do more legislatively to support community initiatives to prevent further homelessness. Where measures are required by policy and parliamentary action, we are ready to offer our support,” said Ms Daley
Many of these homeless individuals who wander on our streets would be safer and better served if returned to their communities with supported housing facilities, and proper monitoring mechanisms by the state, Daley said.
In the meantime, prime minister Andrew Holness says the killing of 4 homeless men and the severe wounding of two others, represent a new kind of savagery especially given what appears to be the serial nature of the attacks which call for a new kind of policing.
He said, “We will spare no effort in investigating the heinous and barbaric murders of these men who are among our society’s most vulnerable.”
The prime minister says he was horrified by the news of the murders, adding that crime and violence continue to wreak havoc on our society and that the Government will continue to apply pressure, using all available resources to flush out violent criminals.
"We have been working to address the problem of homelessness in Jamaica, particularly in Downtown Kingston where we recently established drop-in centres. Now we must redouble our efforts to ensure that this vulnerable group is properly provided for and that there are more clean, safe and accessible places for them, ” Holness said.
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