'Lock them up!'

Comrades step up demand for urgent action against corrupt state actors

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 12, 2019

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PEOPLE'S National Party (PNP) supporters, joined by others sympathetic to their cause, were loud and insistent yesterday as they called on the country's law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities to bring criminal charges against individuals close to the Andrew Holness Administration who are linked to corruption.

Much of their ire was directed at former Education Minister Ruel Reid, who they have dubbed “Cruel Reid”, but other members of the Government were also targeted with some biting and possibly defamatory placards.

“Fi what wi hear about this Ruel Reid issue, somebody fi go a prison and if the big man get weh then every man who deh a prison should be set free,” said one of the protesters, who only identified herself as Jessica and a Comrade.

Another protestor, Princess, said, “Members of this Government have done a whole host of criminal acts and nothing has been done to move them before the justice system. People are becoming apathetic over the whole issue because they are saying, 'But nuhbody nah go jail', and it shouldn't be like that.

“There should be several arrests and trials by now and that is why I am out here taking a stance as a member of the Jamaican society, demanding that Jamaica be restored to its democratic form,” said Princess, who described herself as a PNP supporter.

Collette, who was among the hundreds who turned out for the early morning anti-corruption vigil, said while she is not a Comrade, she had to let her voice be heard.

“As a citizen of Jamaica, when I look at everything that is happening in our society today — the corruption and the crime rate — as a private citizen, I am here to support this cause,” she said.

The crowd's call for criminal charges to be laid against those linked to corruption was echoed by PNP president and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, who questioned the reasons for what he described as delays in the justice process.

“We are here today because the country cannot take any more plundering of the resources of Jamaica,” Phillips argued. “When we look at the history, we see that from the very first year, the very first few months when the Jamaica Labour Party Government came in, they set about to take the people's resources and use it as their own,” he charged, as he catalogued several alleged instances of corruption by the Holness Administration.

“We are here this morning because we intend to put a stop to it. We are starting in Half-Way Tree but we are not going to end until we see justice being done. And when I say justice … I want to ensure that the police are given a free hand and there is no interference by the Government in the investigations that are being undertaken,” added Phillips.

On the subject of the police, the PNP president said that while he had every confidence in the members of the constabulary, he could not understand why, with all that has so far come to light, no arrests have yet been made.

“If it was an ordinary youth from Jungle or from Tivoli dat dem was arresting for taking government property, dem lock him up in a lock up all now and say dat dem a continue to collect the evidence and yet, when is some 'topanaris' people yuh hear say dem cannot do it,” Phillips alleged.

“I am calling on the Director of Public Prosecutions [and] the High Command of the police to show that there is one law that applies for all people in Jamaica irrespective of who you are,” he declared.

He also urged the Integrity Commission to step in, and called for the establishment of commissions of enquiry to look into issues such as the sale of the Urban Development Commission property in St Ann and the scandal engulfing the Ministry of Education.

The Comrades then moved their protest to the Police Officers' Club, meters from the Office of the Prime Minister, where Phillips delivered a brief address before sending a letter to Holness with a warning that the PNP is determined to take action if there is no move on his part.

In the letter of demand, delivered through senior superintendent of police Steve McGregor, Phillips argued that he has written to the prime minister on various occasions, expressing concern about a number of issues of national importance.

“The ineffective responses and in some instances, your silence, as Head of Government have created serious concerns, despair and frustration among citizens, including members of the PNP. This has resulted in the massive protests occurring today,” said Phillips in the letter, as he claimed that the Administration's response to crime and violence has been inadequate so far.

He added: “An overwhelming majority of Jamaicans are disturbed and upset about the many instances of plundering of taxpayers' money which are being uncovered in rapid succession in various government ministries and agencies, since the advent of your Administration and continuing.”

According to the Opposition leader, the PNP is demanding urgent action by the Government on behalf of all concerned Jamaicans.

 

See the full list of demands by the PNP in its letter to Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Page 5.


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