Jamaica Council of Churches calls for urgent action on crime
JCC President, the Most Reverend Kenneth Richards

The Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) has expressed dismay at the fact that only three, or 37.5 per cent, of the key performance indicators (KPIs) of the eight pillars of the consensus agreement on crime are performing satisfactorily.

With this poor level of performance in a high crime environment, the church umbrella group is urging the Andrew Holness-led Government to commit to new delivery dates and communicate its plans to reprioritise the agreement.

“We also call on all of the consensus stakeholders to quickly convene a gathering to rededicate/recommit ourselves to the principles and programmes of the consensus,” said JCC President, the Most Reverend Kenneth Richards, in a statement on Thursday.

Richards noted that the JCC reaffirmed its commitment to the national efforts to create a just, safe and equitable society when, in 2020, it gave its unequivocal support to, and played a pivotal role in, the consultative process which produced the Crime Consensus Agreements and the Consensus Monitoring and Oversight Committee (CMOC).

At that time, several pillars were identified as the key areas in which urgent and purposeful action was needed for the reduction of crime, violence and corruption in order to create a society which is marked by peace, justice and fairness for all, Richards reminded.

He revealed that “In our most recent encounter with CMOC, we received an update on the performance of the KPIs of the eight pillars of the Consensus Agreement.

“The CMOC report indicated inter alia that “only three of eight target areas (37.5 per cent) are progressing satisfactorily or close to plan”.

Richards said the JCC has noted that some pillars have registered some progress. However, he said this was “woefully below the expected performance that would confirm our confidence in the Government of Jamaica’s commitment to the process in general and the specific targets and timelines for deliverables which it gave its agreement to”.

“The Council therefore expresses its deep apprehension regarding the substantial delays and failures that have beleaguered the performance of the KPIs of the Consensus Agreement. The Council is particularly dismayed by the delays in progressing some of the critical pieces of legislation which are imperative and fundamental to the attainment of the goals of the Consensus Agreement and the eventual transformation of our society,” the JCC added.

It said it was aware that the legislative process is an intricate and intense one which involves multiple layers of engagement.

“We nonetheless remain convinced that, as in previous occasions when alacrity was required with passing laws, the same is required at this time,” it said.

The JCC is urging the government to “allay the disquiet of many persons in the church and the wider society, avert further erosion of the already battered trust in our political leadership and institutions and make speedy and serious efforts to correct the slow pace of progress of all pillars of the Consensus Agreement”.

Recently, the prime minister expressed publicly that the country needs to achieve political consensus on crime, similar to the consensus that was reached that turned around the country’s financial fortunes a decade ago.

In response, the Opposition spokesman on national security, Peter Bunting, while stating that the Opposition party would support consensus, blasted the government for waiting to seek consensus until, he said, it had ran out of ideas to fight crime.

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