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Fitz Jackson, Press Releases

Kingston, Jamaica, January 18, 2018: The People’s National Party (PNP) takes note of the State of Emergency (SoE) declared in the parish of St. James.

The Party says that based on the spiralling crime rate in Montego Bay, the failure of the Zone of Special Operation to arrest the number of murders, blatant lawlessness and continued threat to life, the city had reached a near state of anarchy which could not be allowed to persist.

The people of Jamaica, including the Opposition, have been calling for a response from Government throughout the past year. Some 1617 Jamaicans were murdered in 2017 and already more than 63 persons have been killed since the start of this year.

“The main victims of this wave of unchecked criminality are the ordinary citizens of St James who have been abused and murdered in this atmosphere of wanton violence.” PNP president Dr. Peter Phillips said.

The PNP says it lends qualified support to this effort and will await the regulations governing the operations of the State of Emergency which are required to be placed before the Parliament. The Party is insisting that a robust, accessible and viable mechanism to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens during the operations must be in place.

The PNP says every effort must be made by the security forces to be vigilant, courageous, and determined in confronting the criminal threat, even as they are protective of the rights and interests of the law abiding citizens of the parish.

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Fitz Jackson, Press Releases

Kingston, Jamaica, November 29, 2017:  People’s National Party chairman, Fitz Jackson is off the island until December 9, attending a high level meeting of experts, scholars and political representatives in the People’s Republic of China.

Mr. Jackson was invited by the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China to participate in the talks with a view to explore how best to build communities of a shared, beautiful and equitable future for mankind. The discussions will posit solutions to the various challenges facing human societies.

Mr. Jackson returns to the island December 9.

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Fitz Jackson, Press Releases

Kingston, Jamaica, November 27, 2017: People’s National Party (PNP) Shadow Minister of National Security Fitz Jackson says, the so-called crime initiatives announced by the Prime Minister and his Minister of National Security at yesterday’s JLP conference are a combination of old, stale, tried and failed policies, being resurrected after fifty years in the tomb.

The proposal for mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years for gun crimes was already largely implemented in 2010 among the so-called “Crime Bills” of that year.  That measure has failed to stem the tide, and the rate of gun-related murders has spiraled out of control in 2016-2017.

As regards the denial of bail, this is another rehash of a failed measure that was attempted in the “Crime Bills” 2010. Those provisions were struck down by the Court as an unconstitutional usurpation of the presumption of innocence that is well-established in Jamaican jurisprudence.  Mr. Jackson says the Party’s Parliamentary group is serving notice that they will not agree to legislation with provisions which have already been tried and rejected by the society.

For the government to return with the same proposal seven years later, shows the total bankruptcy of ideas in the JLP administration under Andrew Holness.

The Shadow Minister has called on the government to have a genuine national consultation on crime and devise a workable plan to facilitate efficient crime fighting by a police force which is well resourced, well managed and protected from political interference other than general policy direction.

It has taken the Holness administration over six months to respond to the party’s request to replenish the Legal Defence Fund for the police so that officers who are charged for offences in the course of their duties, so they do not have to worry about finding huge legal fees.

The party is happy that the Prime Minister has finally come to his senses on this one issue, by announcing that a provision will be made in the upcoming Supplementary Estimates.

The Shadow Minister once again calls on the government to ensure proper checks and balances over INDECOM’s investigative and prosecutorial powers, by implementing the Joint Select Committee’s recommendations to amend the INDECOM Act by establishing a non-executive Board of Commissioners with governance oversight over the executive management of that body. The Party notes that this beneficial structure has been retained by the Government in the recently-enacted Integrity Commission Bill, and the PNP again calls for its adoption in relation to INDECOM. The Prime Minister cannot just wring his hands and complain about INDECOM’s over-reach without taking the necessary steps to prevent it.

Mr. Jackson said both the Prime Minister and the Security Minister yesterday did nothing to enhance the security environment in Jamaica or the confidence of the Jamaican people. It is clear that the government has no clue as to how to effectively deal with the sharp increase in murders and shootings which has now become a violence contagion particularly in western parishes and Clarendon. The government must provide workable solutions to halt the national fright which is at large islandwide, especially because they used the crime issue as a major plank of their election campaign, promising Jamaicans that they would be able to sleep with their windows and doors open.

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Fitz Jackson, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 6, 2017: The People’s National Party (PNP) is alarmed at the reported blatant breach of the rules governing the use of a firearm by former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate, Mr. Trevor Webb; and is calling on the police to immediately take over responsibility for the investigation of the incident from the Firearms Licensing Authority (FLA).

Shadow Minister on National Security, Mr. Fitz Jackson has written to Police Commissioner George Quallo on this troubling development. 

In a statement today, the party said it viewed the issue with utmost seriousness based on the prevailing crime and murder environment in Jamaica. It said based on a report in the Gleaner newspaper of Saturday, November 4, 2017, coupled with the on-going investigation by the Major Organised and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) in the sale of firearm licenses to friends, cronies and the well-connected, the party has no confidence in the FLA’s administrative leadership to properly investigate and resolve this matter. 

The PNP considers this matter to be a breach of the Firearms Act, which demands a serious and deliberate set of actions to determine whether the former JLP candidate is in breach of any criminal law and should be sanctioned.  The FLA is not the appropriate body to investigate a possible breach of the criminal offence.

Based on a video that has appeared on social media and referenced in the Gleaner report, Mr. Webb engaged in the shooting of bottles set as targets in the hands and on the head of another man, in an open display of western-style bravado.  In the video, Webb and the other persons at the scene can be heard celebrating that all three bullets had gone “clean through the centre” of the bottles, including the one that was on the man’s head. 

Although the newspaper story reported Webb as claiming that the bullets were not real, the recorded expression of the group confirms that the bullets had the capacity to pierce flesh as they had proven that they could penetrate plastic bottles. This contradiction is even more reason for a police investigation to determine whether live rounds were used in the gimmickry.  It should be noted too that even if the bullets were not real, an offence could still have been committed.

This reckless and unlawful behaviour speaks not only to poor judgement, but also to an outright disregard for the law and regulations as well as established good governance and order. Webb, who is himself a former police officer, and one who sought election to the nation’s legislative body makes a mockery of Jamaica’s system of firearm regulation, which is now reeling from the recent scandal at the FLA. 

The PNP notes that the Firearm Licencing Authority (FLA) has been asked to handle this matter, but there is no indication that there is any criminal investigation so far. This begs the question, is Mr. Webb, based on his political association, above the law?

It also remains curious that the FLA, headed by another former JLP candidate, Mr. Shane Dalling, is handling this critical matter involving his political party colleague. Is an impartial outcome possible?  

This is yet another example of unacceptable governance issues being created by the Holness Administration’s penchant to place political operatives in sensitive positions.  The PNP said this matter had serious prosecutorial implications and it would be watching very carefully.

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Fitz Jackson, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 5, 2017: The People’s National Party’s (PNP) Shadow Minister on National Security, Mr. Fitz Jackson welcomes the call from businessman John Mahfoodand the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce for private sector support of a national crime fighting strategy.

This call, Mr. Jackson says, is in keeping with the PNP’s longstanding position that there needs to be a national approach to crime fighting where all stakeholders, including the Parliamentary Opposition, the private sector and civil society sit with government to hammer out a workable long-term solution.

The Shadow Minister said the current piecemeal approach to the issue of crime by National Security Minister Robert Montague and Prime Minister Andrew Holness is not working; and while Jamaicans are being murdered daily, the approach is not showing any encouraging result.He said that the country is further puzzled and confused about where even the leadership of the portfolio lies. 

Since the start of the year, more than 1300 persons have been killed across several parishes. 

“The Minister has been holding consultations on bits and pieces of effort, but these cannot fill the need for a comprehensive strategy. 

“This approach does not add up to the kind of broad based collaboration which is required. If all Minister Montague is looking for is a rubber stamp of the small ideas, then he is looking in the wrong direction,” Mr. Jackson said.  “We are not interested in the piecemeal approach.”

Since the implementation of the first Zone of Special Operations in Mount Salem, more than 78 persons have been murdered in St James. This continued spiraling increase in murders immediately around the Zone of Special Operations, and throughout Jamaica is proof, not opinion, that much more is urgently required. 

The  Prime Minister recently acknowledged in Parliament that crime had reached an epidemic level, a point the Opposition has been making over the past months. This therefore requires mature, firm, resolute leadership towards developing a strategic medium to long term plan, the Shadow Minister said. 

“This matter is no longer business as usual, a sustainable and comprehensive crime fighting approach is necessary, ” he emphasised. 

While a second ZOSO has been declared in Denham Town, in the Western Kingston area, there has been no slowing in the skyrocketing murder rate. 

“I have said in the past, we stand ready to work with the government and all stakeholders, not to rubber stamp piecemeal ideas, but to develop far-reaching strategies. All the Minister needs to do is set the date, the time and the place and we will make ourselves available because crime is a scourge on our society and we will do what is necessary to address this issue,” Mr. Jackson reaffirmed.

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