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Speak up, save lives

Today,

The Royal Gazette begins a new campaign called “Speak Up, Save Lives”.

As the name suggests, the overarching goal is to encourage people to provide information that may help to resolve the 12 unsolved murders that have occurred in the last two years which are related to gang violence.

The hope also is that this series may prevent more murders and may also reduce gang violence and serious crime in this community by shining a light on the lives of the victims.

The series will run every Monday for the next 12 weeks. Each week, one of the unsolved murders will be examined in detail.

Four gang-related murders from the last two years have been solved by the Police, at least in the sense that people have been charged and brought before the courts.

But the fact that in 12 cases no one has been charged means that there are people in the community who, for many reasons, including fear, have not come forward to tell what they know.

This newspaper has been concerned for some time that the sheer volume of crime that has afflicted the Island in the last 24-plus months has numbed the community as a whole to the reality of these crimes.

Sixteen lives have been wasted. By talking to the families of the victims whose killers have not been found, it is hoped that the community will see them not as statistics, but as people, with hopes and dreams. It is important to recognise that many, although not all, of the victims were involved in gang life in some way. And even those people who were not involved died because of the gangs, for example as a result of mistaken identity.

By talking to the Police and walking through the crime scenes, it is hoped that witnesses and others may be reminded of something they saw or heard. It may be that it did not seem important at the time, but it may turn out to be vital. In some cases, it may eliminate some individuals as suspects. That is important too.

On Friday, this newspaper reported on 19 cold cases dating back to the 1970s where the killer or killers have not been apprehended. These cases include the 12 that have occurred in the last two years.

It is a tragedy to lose a family member at any time, and even more so to violence. But when you do not know who killed your son or daughter, your brother or sister, your husband or wife, or your mother or father, the pain is all the more severe. Closure is an word in these cases, but these families need to know the truth. They deserve to know and they deserve to see the killer of their child, sibling, spouse or parent brought to justice.

For the wider community, a person who can kill once can kill again. For the safety of the whole community, these killers must be brought to justice.

This newspaper has long advocated a holistic approach to crime which does not simply deal with detection and punishment, but with the causes of crime as well. But that does not devalue the importance of detecting and prosecuting crimes and criminals. A criminal justice system that does not find and convict those who are responsible for the worst of all crimes the taking of another life means finding solutions will be all the harder.

But this community knows too well that the police cannot do it alone. They need the assistance of the public to accomplish it, and this newspaper urges those who may be holding back, whether out of fear or some sense of loyalty, to come forward and help to determine who took these lives.

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Published August 29, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 31, 2011 at 11:22 am)

Speak up, save lives

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