PNP blasts Holness for lack of plan to advance the anti-crime agenda
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.