Jamaica arrests 253 gangsters, none brought to trial: media reports
KINGSTON, (Xinhua) -- Jamaican police have arrested 253 people for gang-related crimes since last year, but none of them have been brought to trial due to overstocked cases in the courts, local media reported on Wednesday.
Several top police officers, when attending a press club activity hosted by local daily Jamaica Observer on Tuesday, complained that the inefficiency of the country's judicial system is undermining the police's efforts in fighting gang crimes.
The police arrested 208 people last year and 46 others this year under the anti-gang legislation, according to Glenmore Hinds, deputy commissioner of police in charge of crime.
But "they're all clogged up somewhere in the court system," he said.
While admitting "no real urgency" to prioritize these cases, Hinds said at least some of the cases need to go through to set a precedence and examine the effectiveness of the law.
Jamaican parliament passed the Criminal Justice Bill, or popularly called the anti-gang law, in 2014, which aimed to "make provision for the disruption and suppression of criminal organizations".
Between 250 and 300 criminal gangs are now operating across Jamaica, Hinds said.
"The number of gangs fluctuates from time to time and what causes fluctuation is that you'll have implosions in gangs and breakaway groups or splinter groups coming out of gangs," he said.
Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Carl Williams said gang-related killings, which accounted for more than 50 percent of murders in Jamaica, are a major problem faced by the police.
"This year, up to now, we have some 312 murders. Of those, 159 were related to gangs, while some 65 murders were non-gang and 86 ones are still under investigation," the top police officer told the press club.
Jamaica is among countries with the highest homicide rate in the world.
With a population of less than 3 million, the country recorded 1,207 murders last year, up nearly 20 percent over the 2014 figure.
Williams has blamed the rocketing murder cases to escalating gang activities, especially intra- and inter-gang feuds in the country's rural areas.