Our music, no problem - Montague refuses to blame entertainment for crime
It has been nearly a year since National Security Minister Robert Montague stood side by side with two of dancehall's most decorated artistes, Ninja Man and Bounty Killer.
The minister had taken the dancehall stars to the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston as part of an attempt to boost the morale of the nation's crime-fighters. Fast-forward 11 months, and Ninja Man is in jail, having been remanded by a Supreme Court judge as his murder trial gets under way.
Montague, however, remains convinced that entertainers are an important part of the society.
"I see music as a part of our culture, and I see it not to promote crime, but helping to increase citizens' safety and security," Montague said.
The minister said that he has scheduled a discussion with players in the entertainment sector.
"My staff is working with them a number of the entertainers and the promoters and they are willing to sit down. But what I want is a sit-down of the industry, because they have a role to play. I don't see our local music, which is respected worldwide, as a problem. I see it as part of the solution," he said.
Montague, when asked about the involvement of entertainers in criminality, said it would be unfair to single out any group in this regard.
"I have seen ministers of religion, I have seen journalists, teachers ... . We have seen people from all strata of society, so I don't want to pick on the music industry alone," Montague said.
In February, Assistant Commissioner Ealan Powell, head of the Criminal Investigation Branch, said some entertainers are using their money and influence to drive up crime figures in the country.
"Several entertainers are people who are misguided. They have come in possession of wealth, and instead of using the wealth to promote the good values, they use it to promote the wrong values," said
At the time, top-flight artiste Alkaline was arrested in relation to a murder probe. He was never charged.
Several entertainers, including Vybz Kartel, are serving time in prison for crime.
Kartel, who is serving a life sentenced for the 2011 murder of Clive 'Lizard' Williams, has appealed his conviction and sentence. The appeal is expected to be heard next February.