Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is outraged by the damning allegations that have come to light about the issuing of gun licences by the Firearms Licencing Authority (FLA) to individuals of questionable character with alleged ties to criminality, including organised crime. Even more shocking, is the alleged involvement of a former high-ranking government official and the purported inaction, almost scant regard, from the responsible ministry in tackling the longstanding issue.
The current allegations made by the FLA leadership echoes similar allegations levelled against the state agency in 2017. The regularity of these allegations is suggestive of a larger issue at the FLA. Not only has the state failed to act, but the allegations levelled undermine legitimate crime-fighting efforts, contributing to the lack of trust within society that fuels the crime monster. A case in point is the recent revelation by former Deputy Chairman of the FLA,who by his own admission, stated he had knowledge of an acquaintance allegedly bribing an official to secure a firearm licence. One has to ask the questions, what is expected of our public officials when such an affront to our laws are known to them? Is there an obligation to report?
For years JFJ has maintained that successive administrations have failed to wholesomely tackle crime including, targeting the highly connected or the powerful behind the criminal networks. JFJ contends that among the reasons criminals and criminality continue to thrive, is in part because those in authority have not had the desire or the will to take the necessary steps to deal with the corruption. We believe far too often reviews are conducted, reports written, with little done to bring resolve to these matters. Instead, the focus has been on Band-Aid -driven public relations measures.
JFJ strongly condemns what can only be described as ‘state sanctioned criminality’ where public officials are involved in issuing gun permits to known criminals. Unfortunately, this is a longstanding issue plaguing the FLA with very little change over the years. The operation of the agency amounts to ‘cyclical madness’ as the same problems persist despite a change in leadership, suggestive of a systemic problem.
JFJ calls for urgent probe and comprehensive reform
This latest series of events speaks to the wider of issue of how state boards are appointed. The time has come for the FLA to be completely removed from executive control, with the agency being a body of Parliament, and board members appointed by the Governor General, following consultation with both the Leader of Opposition and the Prime Minister.
JFJ calls for the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) and the Integrity Commission to immediately conduct a probe into the allegations of impropriety at the agency. The probe must indicate who received the permits, and the permits subsequently revoked. In addition, agency officials involved must be prosecuted. Justice requires action if the cycle of corruption and links to criminality are to be broken.
For further information contact:
Mickel Jackson, Executive Director – (876) 875-0787
John Clarke, Director – (876) 275-4486