The Crime Monitoring and Oversight Committee (CMOC) has again rapped the Government for its failure to meet several of the agreed deadlines under the almost one-year-old National Crime Consensus Agreement.
Addressing a CMOC quarterly briefing yesterday, committee chairman Lloyd Distant said while some of the deadlines have been shifted based on discussions, the pace of implementation of several measures is a cause for concern.
“CMOC is dissatisfied with the progress on several of the initiatives, particularly the agreements that should have been delivered by June 2021,” declared Distant even as he applauded the Administration for those targets that have been met.
“That said, we do see some good work taking place in relation to social community transformation, and very similarly the work of the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force). We do believe that the transformation programme is going at pace and that they are paying attention to their deliverables,” added Distant.
But he pointed out that CMOC is particularly dissatisfied with the pace of the needed legislative changes.
The CMOC head noted that under the National Crime Consensus Agreement, 38 areas were identified for action with 17 scheduled to be completed by the end of June this year.
Distant said of 17, three would have been flagged as green, meaning that they are far advanced; two have been completed; one has had its date reset; four have been flagged as amber, meaning they are at various stages of completion; while seven have been flagged as red, meaning that there has been little or no work on them.
He said CMOC remains most concerned about the approval and gazetting of the regulations to the Public Bodies and Management Accountability Act that is still before the Parliament.
“This is an item that we continue to watch very closely because we believe that this is a key component to ensure that we are reducing corruption and that we are heading in the right direction to reduce the likelihood of corruption, but more important, ensure that there is accountability in our government offices,” Distant said as he expressed concern about the slow pace of other agreed legislative changes.
He told the media briefing that CMOC has been advised about the lengthy process needed for the legislative changes but it is still not satisfied with this explanation.
“Our comments would have generally been… that we have seen in the past, where the will exists, the Government has been able to press the process and ensure that legislation is approved in due course.
“We would anticipate that the deadlines that are given to us should be realistic. We have sat back, we have revised timelines in the past; it is not that we are unwilling to do that, but let's put something on the table that is realistic, let's ensure that we are all agreed that there is some priority that is put on this and not set some timeline that is stretched out over two or three years,” he said.
The CMOC head, who is the president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, also raised a red flag about the slow pace of planned changes to laws where the penalties need to be updated.
“There are some 600 penalty provisions in law that ought to be revised based on discussions that we had, and we are seeking to get some visibility on that and we are urging the responsible ministers to ensure that those items are identified… and that those are actually looked at and treated with some amount of urgency,” declared Distant.
On a positive note, the CMOC boss gave high marks to the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) which, he said, has 60 investigations under way with 18 before the courts. According to Distant, MOCA is being given the resources it needs to do its work and that is a step in the right direction.
He said CMOC is also satisfied with the work that is being done to reduce violence against children but it needs more information on what is being done to address gender-based violence.
“We have asked for a meeting with Minister [of gender affairs] Grange and as soon as we have that meeting we will provide a more comprehensive update on what is taking place in relation to reducing gender-based violence,” said Distant.
The CMOC head also gave high marks to Chief Justice Bryan Sykes for the plans outlined to improve the justice system, but noted that the Supreme Court continues to lag behind in its performance.
CMOC — an independent body comprising stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, academia and the political directorate — was established to identify and monitor initiatives to bring about sustainable reduction in crime, violence and corruption.