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JAMAICA | Political parties, private sector sign agreement on crimefighting

  • Written by Calvin G. Brown - Wiredja.com
  • Published in local news
Featured Prime Minister, Andrew Holness (right), exchanges an elbow bump with Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips (left) after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the National Consensus on Crime at the crime consensus summit held at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston on August 3. In the background is Minister of National Security, Dr. Horace Chang. Prime Minister, Andrew Holness (right), exchanges an elbow bump with Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips (left) after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the National Consensus on Crime at the crime consensus summit held at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston on August 3. In the background is Minister of National Security, Dr. Horace Chang.
KINGSTON,  Jamaica, August 4, 2020- Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader  Dr. Peter Phillips were yesterday joined by other key leaders across a wide cross section of Jamaica’s society as they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as it related to a much anticipated national consensus on crime.

Arising out of a Crime Consensus Summit at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston yesterday, the MOU outlines the steps that must be taken for a sustainable reduction in crime, inclusive of milestones and agreements on a monitoring and reporting mechanism.

Prime Minister Holness said signing the MOU signals a united approach to fighting crime and creating a robust mechanism to monitor and provide oversight. He said that public disorder, crime and violence and limited consequences for breaches of the law have for too long characterised Jamaica’s security landscape.

Crime, Holness emphasized, "is a significant threat to the country’s human and economic development, with high levels of criminality expressed most visibly in homicides. Emphasising the importance of consensus in addressing the issue, he said it is criminals who benefit directly from the “political, economic, social, cultural and infrastructural divides that continue to plague our society.”

He said “Criminals profit when there is a divide in strategy and policy in the Government,” adding that “I take hope in this public commitment towards consensus.”

Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips who was a no-nonsence minister of national security under the PNP administration, in his presentation noted that crime represents a fundamental threat to the survival of the country.

“All of us need to give… courageous, disciplined and sincere support to this effort that we are now embarking upon. One of the things we should do as we move forward is take account of the lessons that can be learnt from our experience over many decades in trying to tackle this issue of violent crime,” Dr. Phillips said.

Dr Phillips suggested that a critical area of the consensus  being pursued by the political parties and the private sector, was the development of a “sustainable, modern and fit-for-the-purpose” legislative framework called the National Intelligence Act.

He said that this would be necessary in sustaining a modern legislative framework and a national intelligence system that can keep pace with global technological developments while ensuring accountability from those with access and those who manage the intelligence service in the country.

Priority areas of focus under the MOU include dismantling and eliminating criminal gangs; normalising and reintegrating troubled communities; preventing corruption, collusion and money laundering; and reforming and modernising the police and justice system.

Under the MOU, any minister of government found guilty of involvement or complicity in corruption or facilitating criminal activity must resign and be subject to criminal charges, if deemed warranted, by the ODPP.

The document also calls for political parties to repudiate and reject any links to gangs or other organisations that are known or suspected to be involved in criminality.

The document also commits the political directorate to introduce legislation to establish unexplained wealth and reverse the burden of proof in Jamaica.

In cases where people cannot or will not account for significant wealth, the courts will be empowered to conclude that it represents the proceeds of crime and is, therefore, subject to seizure.

Members of public boards must be appointed solely on the basis of merit, relevant experience, and qualifications, the document states.

In addition to the political parties, other  signatories to the MOU include the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce; Jamaica Council of Churches; Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ); Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU); Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches, among others.

In 2018, the private-sector industry associations commenced a process to forge a national consensus with the Government, Opposition, civil society and security experts to develop a National Strategic Programme on initiatives and actions to transform Jamaica to become a safe, secure, and investment-friendly society.

This was presented to the National Partnership Council and received overwhelming support. In October of last year, a summit was held that included members of civil society as well as the leaders and representatives of the Government and Opposition.

The summit concluded with an understanding that successful transformation would require agreement on specific priorities and actions, widespread buy-in as to the way forward, and a bipartisan commitment to implementation.

Since that meeting, a road map was developed with a strategic programme of initiatives and actions that will transform Jamaica into a safe and secure society.

Last modified onTuesday, 04 August 2020 09:21
  • Countries: Jamaica