MEMBERS OF JAMAICAN COMMUNITY ABROAD ANGERED ABOUT GROWING VIOLENCE AGAINST THE ISLAND’S CHILDREN
New York, NY, March 9, 2006— As Jamaica prepares to lay to rest seven young victims of last week’s wave of terror, Jamaicans abroad are concerned that the island’s children are increasingly becoming targets, as crime and violence continue to escalate.
Jamaica Impact, Inc (JAMPACT), a service organization based in New York and South Florida, whose mission includes promoting and improving basic education in Jamaica, is ready to take a stand. Under the leadership of current president Kamar Samuels, they are issuing an open call to other organizations and members of the Diaspora to actively participate in programs that support child welfare and development in Jamaica.
Reading about these seven murders takes Samuels back four years, when six-year-old Shakera Malcolm, a recent graduate of Mt. Olive Basic School, one of JAMPACT’s five adopted schools, was gunned down, along with her mother and sister, in the Hundred Lane Massacre in Kingston.
“It is unfortunate to see the levels to which our values and attitudes have plummeted,” states Samuels. “As an organization in the Diaspora that places the interest of children at the core of our mission, JAMPACT is willing to reach out and work with any organization in Jamaica that is committed to advancing sustainable projects which seek to establish a more secure environment for our children. We urge other organizations and members of the Diaspora to do the same. Jamaicans at home and abroad cannot allow criminals to prey on our children any longer,” he comments.
“The recent events are a symptom of how urgent things are in Jamaica,” adds Jason Walker, President of Atlanta-based United For Jamaica. “We need every person who calls themselves a Jamaican, are descendants of Jamaica, and say they love Jamaica, to use every resource they have in an effort to uplift Jamaica.”
Gary Foster, co-founder of Upliftment Jamaica, a not-for-profit organization based in New York and Jamaica, is in full agreement with Samuels and Walker. Foster, a native of St. Thomas, was in Jamaica last week when a massacre claimed the lives of four children, ages 3-9, in his parish.
“I knew the families,” states Foster, somberly. “I saw the bodies.”
Recognizing that a significant portion of the criminal activities in Jamaica are the result of the dramatic increase in the deportation of violent criminals from the United States, Foster believes that the America’s Caribbean contingent needs to lobby U. S. government officials for assistance in tracking, monitoring, and rehabilitating these criminals.
“We have a lot to do, but America must play her part. They cultivate monsters.”
Diana Cassells, noted for her research on Diaspora policy and relations and currently teaching political science at the State University of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, maintains that the justice system should take a stronger approach in penalizing such heinous crimes.
“We need stronger penalties,” she states firmly. “We need stronger penalties, including harsher jail sentences against those who commit violence against children.”
Irwine Claire, Managing Director of the Caribbean Immigrant Services, is in agreement with Cassells that person’s caught committing violent crimes, particularly against children, should be pursued to the fullest extent of the law. However, Clare is cognizant of the limitations of Jamaican law enforcement officers in pursuing dangerous criminals. He could hardly contain his outrage at the lack of response these killings are receiving from Jamaicans for Justice and other human rights organizations.
“Carolyn Gomes and all these other human rights activists and organizations haven’t issued any statements or taken any action regarding these killings. They are always talking about justice in other circumstances, but they are silent now,” said Clare, angrily. “Where is the justice for the victims? The victims here are the families that lost the children AND Jamaica–So where is the justice for the victims?”