PM calls for decisive action against child abusers

Labour Day 2019 to focus on safety, security of nation's children

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness, in launching Labour Day 2019 celebrations yesterday, called on Jamaicans to act decisively against all criminals, especially those who prey on children.

“Do not take the law into your own hands; work with law enforcement to ensure that those who commit such horrible acts against the most vulnerable of our citizens are brought to account under the law,” Holness told a large gathering of political, public service and civil society representatives who attended the function at Jamaica House.

The event marked the launch of both this year's Labour Day activities, which fall under the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, represented by Minister Olivia Grange, and Workers' Week activities, which fall under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, represented by Minister Shahine Robinson.

The programme also involves the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, but portfolio minister Desmond McKenzie was unable to attend.

Four national projects for Labour Day were announced: Holland Primary School, St Elizabeth; Barrett Town All-Age/John Rollins Primary, St James; Fair Prospect Primary, Portland; and Papine High School, St Andrew.

The theme for this year's celebrations is “Child Safety…It's You, It's Me, It's All Ah We”, and the focus is on the safety and security of the nation's children, and Holness spent a great deal of his speech focusing on the protection of children from criminal elements who prey on them.

He also expressed concerns about road safety, noting that more than 120 children have died on the country's roads in the past five years, while another 70,000 have suffered injuries, as a result of accidents occurring as close as within 100 metres of their schools, over the past decade.

“This is unacceptable for a country that consistently says how much we have love our children,” Holness said, noting that it is happening at a time when the world celebrates the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

He said that the situation raises the need to ensure that in every action, programme or activity devised and implemented in the country, the well-being — emotional, educational, cultural, economical and spiritual — of the nation's children is given due regard and respect. “To the extent that we judge our progress by the extent to which we, as a nation, are able to demonstrate our commitment to the well-being of our children,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister Grange expressed gratitude to the various civil society organisations, NGOs, churches, youth clubs, companies, service clubs and community organisations for their support and involvement with this year's programme.

She also paid tribute to the national planning committee, which had been charged with overseeing and monitoring the Labour Day and Workers' Week activities.

She said that the Child Development Agency recognises persons aged up to 18 years old as children, adding that there are 811,200 children in Jamaica.

“This is the band of citizens that we target this year and our focus is on their safety and security. They are among the most vulnerable among us, and local international laws and conventions require that they be protected, their rights safeguarded and their future assured through the laws, policies and programmes that we put in place,” Grange said.

She said that the theme of the celebrations requires that all law- abiding citizens come together and ensure that the children are safe and secure.

“That is a responsibility that we must take seriously. The death of one child must bring us all pain. Collectively, we must assure them safe passage, as they journey to adulthood and national productivity,” she added.

Other speakers included Labour Minister Robinson; Mariko Kagoshima, country representative of UNICEF Jamaica; and Onyka Barrett Scott, general manager of the JN Foundation, sponsors of the Labour Day and Workers' Week activities; as well as Opposition spokesman on labour and welfare Horace Dalley.

Entertainment was provided by students of the Hazard Primary School, while prayer was said by the Rev Courtney Gordon, chairman of the committee for the Promotion of national religious services.

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