Private Sector, Gov't and Opposition meet to discuss State of Emergency

Friday, December 14, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) have made a commitment to hold dialogue both inside and outside of Parliament to find a solution to the continuation of measures to curtail crime and violence in the country.

Both parties came to an agreement following separate meetings held yesterday with three private sector groups on the heels of the Opposition's withdrawal of support for the states of public emergency in St James, St Catherine North and sections of Kingston and St Andrew on Tuesday.

The meetings which were convened by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) were held separately with the leader and senior members of the PNP and then Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the Attorney General.

According to the private sector groups, the discussions were “forthright and comprehensive and covered all the substantive issues raised by the recent parliamentary debate.” They emphasised that the matters of crime and citizen security cannot be the subject of narrow partisan interest or political gamesmanship.

President of the PSOJ, Howard Mitchell, noted that "the PSOJ believes that the issues expressed by both parties can and must be resolved immediately. If there is a question about legality of the State of Emergency, it can be resolved by an urgent application to our Courts and if the issues relate to human rights deficiencies then the Government must remedy those deficiencies. Disunity in fighting crime cannot be supported by us."

The groups said that although the nation's security is primarily the responsibility of the ruling administration, the parliamentary opposition shares that responsibility to citizens as they too are a part of the democratically elected government.

“As such, our request was first and foremost for both parties to meet and determine a unified national approach for the restoration of normality and peace in our country. We have obtained their commitment to have dialogue, which must now immediately occur both in and out of parliament,” said JMEA President Metry Seaga.

"Crime is one of the greatest risks to our people ... We trust that both parties will act with the level of maturity required and do the right thing to make Jamaica a safe place to live, work, raise families and do business," he added.

“We are therefore holding our parliamentary representatives responsible to arrive at a unified approach by returning to parliament and resolving the impasse in short order. These discussions must speak to a clear framework for anti-crime initiatives that also extend beyond a State of Emergency.”

According to JCC President, Lloyd Distant, “the private sector representatives noted the firm acknowledgement of both Government and Opposition that a State of Emergency is not, by definition, a situation that is meant to last indefinitely or which should be normalised, as it inevitably impacts the rights and freedoms of citizens. With this point of agreement, it cannot be beyond both sides to arrive at a consensus and agree on the way forward bearing in mind the larger interest of our citizenry”.

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