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KINGSTON, Jamaica – August 2, 2017 —-The scandal which has enveloped the Firearms Licencing Authority (FLA), has deadly consequences and therefore cannot be treated in part or with scant regard. The Ministry of National Security that is supposed to equip and enable the police force to fight crime is now the same Ministry that is mired in allegations of corruption and award of gun licenses to criminal-suspects, convicted lotto scammers and motor vehicle thieves.

Indeed, the resignation of the Chairman and members of the FLA is only a necessary first step to begin the process of re-establishing the reputation and credibility of this important law enforcement agency. However, at a time when shootings and murders are spiraling out of control, the Government needs to do a lot more to re-assure the public, namely:

1. The CEO, Shane Dalling, who was a member of the political triumvirate running the FLA, must also be removed from that position. Shane Dalling is a former JLP Parish Councillor and the Opposition has no confidence in his continuing tenure. In light of all that has transpired, it is insulting to the country that Mr. Dalling, who has been an integral part of the activities and decisions of the previous board has now been given additional responsibilities, as announced by Minister Montague. There must be a clean break from deep-seated allegations of corruption and cronyism.

2. The idea of a review of the FLA by Justice Panton makes no sense because:

a. A review was recently done by a senior director at the Ministry of National Security (MNS). Even though that Report was delivered in February 2017, there has so far been no action on its recommendations.

b. Furthermore, the Firearms Licensing Review Board is a part of the process of firearm licensing and therefore its members cannot be regarded as objective in any review of the said process.

3. An overall review and investigation should instead be carried out by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG), a Commission of Parliament with the power to investigate the issuance of all licences and permits. Since the outgoing members of the Authority are all close associates of the Minister, it is important that a body outside of the Ministry of National Security (and beyond the Minister’s direction and control) conduct this investigation. The Opposition is calling for the Contractor General to immediately commence an investigation into the allegations of corruption at the FLA.

4. The MOCA investigation should cooperate with the OCG. Where criminal actions are uncovered, the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
5. Minister Montague must be replaced as the Minister of National Security. There is no way that the credibility of the FLA can be restored under his oversight. Even now, the outgoing FLA Chairman remains as the Minister’s Senior Security Advisor and someone who the Minister referred to in his 2016 Sectoral Debate presentation as his “colleague, friend, big brother, and sounding board.” The Minister is the architect of the politicization of the FLA and must therefore be held responsible for the unfolding scandal which that politicization has facilitated and the contribution to crime and violence in our country.