Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Jamaican Parliament is making changes to several pieces of legislation that should help curtail violence when they come into effect.
The prime minister made the comment at the thanksgiving service for the lives of Kemesha Wright and her four children — Kimanda Smith, 15; Shara-Lee Smith, 10; Rafaella Smith, five; and 23-month-old Kishawn Henry — at the Stuart Hall building at Clarendon College in Clarendon on Sunday afternoon. The five were killed at their home in Cocoa Piece, Clarendon, last month by their relative Rushane Barnett, who has since pleaded guilty.
The prime minister’s statement comes as Opposition Leader Mark Golding said he would support the Government’s move to stem the violence. In the past few weeks, the country has been rocked by several incidents of multiple murders.
Opposition Leader Mark Golding greets Gwendolyn McKnight on Sunday at the service of thanksgiving for the lives of her daughter and four grandchildren who were brutally slaughtered at their home in Cocoa Piece, Clarendon, in June.
Holness said Sunday that changes have been or will be made to the Firearms Act, the Bail Act, the Law Reform (Zone of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, the Offences Against the Person Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Domestic Violence Act, and the Child Care and Protection Act.
He said, too, that more support would be coming for victims of violence as too often people are witness to or have been victims of violence, and they do not feel satisfied by the process.
The prime minister also said changes would be made to the legal system to provide counselling and to detect and intervene in situations before they become violent. He pointed out that the accused in the Clarendon five killing had come to the attention of the police before, and had there been a system to detect violence, things may not have got to the stage of five people being murdered.
Meanwhile, Golding bemoaned that when Jamaica should be celebrating Emancipation Day the nation is mourning the loss of five young lives.
Caretaker candidate for North Central Clarendon (People’s National Party), Dr Desmond Brennan, said what Jamaica is experiencing demonstrates that something is lacking in the homes. He said parents must curb “bad” behaviour in children before it gets out of hand, adding that society, along with promoting physical health, must also put some focus on mental and social well-being.
In the meantime, Education Minister Fayval Williams said that by next school year, civics will be reintroduced to teach youngsters values and virtues.