Provisions under the modernised Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) (Amendment) Act, 2021, commonly called the Anti-Gang legislation now allows for the prosecution of groups engaged in criminal activities.
This was stated by Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), Jeremy Taylor, at the Ministry of Education and Youth’s Anti-Gang Week Townhall, on November 17, held at the Office of the Commissioner of Police in Kingston and online.
“What has changed with the new legislation is that we no longer have to look at individuals, because up to 2014 we really could only prosecute the individual, irrespective of what other persons may have done either in the background or foreground. You could only move against the individual in that respect. Now, this new Act allows us to move against groups and you have seen that we have brought certain groups to trial,” Taylor said.
He explained that the law, passed in 2014 and amended in 2021, spreads a broad net to facilitate the capture of all persons complicit in criminal activities.
“Even if you are not the trigger person, you are the person who drives them to do the crime, you are charged as a facilitator of the criminal offence, just as how if you are the person who shoots the person, you are also charged as the facilitator of the criminal offence,” he explains.
The law goes further to clarify that individuals participating in activities that render any benefit to a gang also contravenes the law.
“It speaks about providing a benefit to a criminal organisation. These are the gun bags; if you carry the guns for the criminal organisation to hide or to ‘lock’, you have provided a benefit. If you carry the stolen goods, you carry them to a pawn shop and you sell them, you have provided a benefit. If you get a doctor for a person, knowing he is a member of a gang and has committed a gang-related activity, you have provided a benefit… . The law has tried to cover all the major areas,” Mr. Taylor said.
Information from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) indicates that gang violence contributes to an estimated 80 per cent of murders in the country.
Anti-Gang Week is being observed from November 13 to 19, under the theme ‘Leggo Di Gang, Lift Up Jamaica’.
The week of activities is being hosted by the Ministry of Education and Youth, in collaboration with the JCF.