PNP promises balanced approach to fighting violent crimeSunday, July 25, 2021
By Luke Douglas
KINGSTON, Jamaica— With Jamaica's murder continuing to escalate, the opposition People's National Party (PNP) says it will bring back the Unite for Change programme as part of what it calls a more balanced approach to fighting violent crime.
Opposition spokesman on National Security Peter Bunting says the government's over-reliance on what he called “the heavy handed approach” to crime fighting, featuring states of emergency, is not working and more social investment is needed.
Jamaica Constabulary Force statistics show that as at July 17, murders were up 6.1 per cent in 2021 over 2020, with 779 homicides in 2021, up from 734 in 2020.
“An important part of the balance that is missing under the Jamaica Labour Party is the strategic investment in our people where we give the youth a chance to avoid the temptation to go towards the gun instead of towards opportunities to make themselves productive citizens. That feeds a lot of the lack of social cohesion that the country suffers from,” Bunting said.
The former national security minister was speaking during a virtual meeting, dubbed Conversation with the Diaspora, last Thursday (July 22). The meeting was aimed at galvanising support and ideas for the party from Jamaicans living overseas.
Unite for Change was a national movement and public awareness campaign introduced in December 2013 to “rekindle hope among Jamaicans and convince law-abiding citizens that they are not helpless, but can overcome the fear that has immobilised them, by working together as a united front against crime,” Bunting said in 2015.
Bunting said about 80 per cent of Jamaica's murders were generated from 50 to 100 communities, mostly in Kingston, St. Andrew and St James. He said social investment in these communities such as education, health care, public cleansing, housing and community infrastructure is crucial to reducing violent crime.
The opposition spokesman said the PNP government sought to reduce the friction between the police and communities by among other things decriminalising the possession of small quantities of ganja, which he said eliminated 12,000 cases from the courts.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader and PNP President Mark Golding told the meeting that the party was revisiting its expression of the philosophy of democratic socialism.
“We need to take this opportunity while we are in opposition and early in the term to revisit how we express our philosophy in 21st century terms as a democratic socialist party; what does that mean today and how we articulate that message in terms of the policy expressions that ought to emerge from that,” Golding said.
The PNP is also considering a suggestion for a seat or seats in the senate to be reserved for members of the diaspora. Golding said this would require a change in Jamaica's Constitution.
Also the party is discussing a proposal for diaspora members who are not on Jamaica's voter's list to become members of the PNP.
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