Do it for Ja
PSOJ makes impassioned plea at crime prevention summitWednesday, July 31, 2019
BY BALFORD HENRY
Jamaica's private sector leadership made an impassioned plea yesterday for the island's main political parties and civil society bodies to join in a national consensus on tackling crime and poverty for the benefit of the country.
Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) President Howard Mitchell made the plea in a powerpoint presentation at the opening session of a National Crime and Violence Prevention Summit hosted by the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.
The presentation focused on what he said were the key results of the private sector's efforts to combat crime.
“We, the members of the private sector, have reached out in our efforts to, and invite you to join in a national consensus, together with the other political and civil society stakeholders, to effect a transformative process for the benefit of Jamaica,” Mitchell told the summit.
He said that the overall process being recommended by the private sector involves three phases:
(1) engagement and consultations;
(2) articulation of the issues; and
(3) execution, implementation and accountability.
Mitchell noted that 17 groups and individuals had already been consulted in the process of compiling a solution to crime and violence so as to reduce its impact on growth and development, and address poverty and other social conditions as a joint effort with the Government.
“The private sector is committed to working with the Government and other key partners, [including] trade unions, civil society and academia to transform this situation, and bring us to a place where growth and development are accessible and enjoyed by all Jamaicans,” he said.
However, while the proposals from the private sector were well received during the public session of the summit, PNP Chairman Fitz Jackson read out clear ground rules requiring the absence of the press after the opening remarks: no tweeting, posting or recording of the discussions or sharing of the details.
He said that, thereafter, the conclusions arising from the consultations would be packaged and, eventually, made public.
But details of the PSOJ's powerpoint proposals, labelled 'Presentation on the Public Order, Citizen Security and Economic Growth Summit', were made available in the package handed out to guests and the press at the start of the event.
In its introduction, Mitchell expressed the sector's concern about “the negative impact that crime is having on Jamaica's targets for economic growth, and the resultant job opportunities, especially for our young people”.
“Current and potential investors local and overseas — including in the diaspora — are in a holding position,” he informed the meeting.
In a communiqué issued after the meeting, it was agreed that a full report from the summit will be completed and circulated to all participants within two weeks.
The National Crime & Violence Prevention Summit attracted representatives of 40 organisations from civil society, public sector, church, diplomatic corps, and Government.
In addition to Mitchell, major presentations were made by Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips and Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte.
Stakeholder perspectives were presented by Bishop Dr Alvin Bailey on behalf of the Church community; Everton Rattray, incoming president of the Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students; and Rodje Malcolm, executive director of Jamaicans For Justice.
Technical presentations were made by Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey; Erica Allen of the Peace Management Initiative; and social anthropologist Dr Herbert Gayle.
“There was general agreement that criminal violence and violence in the society need a multifaceted response and cannot simply be treated as a matter of law enforcement. Participants agreed that the society needs urgent adjustments in several areas, including aspects of our culture, community relations and empowerment, parenting support, much-needed legislation and police reform that has been left languishing for several years,” the communiqué stated.
The meeting also agreed that the reports on crime and violence dating back to the 2007 Wolfe Report, and including the report from the Commission of Enquiry after the security forces' operation in Tivoli Gardens in 2010, the Jamaica Constabulary Force strategic reports and others must be re-examined and the recommendations lifted and implemented as a matter of urgency.
The meeting expressed strong support for a national consensus around the agreed anti-crime measures, as put forward by the PSOJ, which calls for Government, Opposition, private sector, and civil society to collaborate on determining the framework for crime prevention, including committing to providing required extraordinary resources and monitoring the execution of a plan by an Economic Programme Oversight Committee-type body .
“It was accepted by all that it is important that any sustainable anti-crime solution could not and should not include any long-term suspension of constitutional and civil rights,” the communiqué said.
“The summit benefited from presentations on existing realities and experiences, situation analyses, data from expert research findings, case studies and best practices around which there were frank and honest discussions, out of which other issues were identified,” it added.