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JM | Nov 24, 2022

Private sector and civil society implore the opposition to support the extension of SOEs

Tamoy Ashman

Tamoy Ashman / Our Today

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Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers stand at a checkpoint in Central Kingston on Sunday, November 14, after the Government of Jamaica’s announcement of public states of emergency (SOEs) in seven police divisions. (Photo: Twitter @JamaicaConstab)

The Private sector and civil society are requesting that the People’s National Party (PNP) support the proposal made by the government to extend the current States of Emergencies (SOE’s), noting that a unified approach is needed to solve crime.

SOEs were implemented in seven parishes across the island on Tuesday (November 15). These include the parishes of St James, Clarendon, St Catherine, Hanover, Westmoreland and sections of Kingston and St Andrew.

During Parliament on Tuesday (November 22), security minister Horace Chang put forward a request for Prime Minister Andrew Holness to extend the SOEs, slated to end on November 29, until January 14, 2023.

The government used their majority vote to pass the request in the lower house, but the opposition did not support the extension.

(Photo: Facebook @JamaicaConstabularyForce)

The Private sector and civil society noted that they support the extension of the SOEs. But, they are also requesting that the Senate pass the extension on the condition that the Government addresses outstanding key issues, critical in achieving the Opposition’s full support.

“The Private Sector and Civil Society encourage a unified approach to crime fighting, one that is without politicization. The citizens of Jamaica deserve the right to life and to raise their families in a society that will allow them to do so without fear,” they noted in a press release today (November 24).

SOEs effective, but not a long- term solution

Since the declaration of the SOEs, Jamaica’s crime rate has reduced, proving that the measures are effective, stated the private sector and civil society.

They added that data on the country’s crime rate shows that 63 murders were recorded weeks before the declaration of the SOEs. But after the measures were implemented, 12 murders were recorded in the first week, which the government said shows a significant decline.

Joint police-military presence in Central Kingston on November 14, 2021, after the Government of Jamaica’s announcement of public states of emergency (SOEs) in seven police divisions. (Photo: Twitter @JamaicaConstab)

Though effective, the private sector and the civil society believe that more long-term solutions are needed.

“The trend in recent months suggests that we need additional measures now to disrupt criminal networks as soon as possible in order to reduce violent crimes and murder.”

A recommendation was put forward for the government to utilize the Enhanced Security Measures (ESM) that have been outstanding from Q-1 of 2021.

They noted that these measures will “provide greater powers in the law to target, detain and neutralize known violence producers by providing strong intelligence to the Justice system.”

Opposition Leader, Mark Golding alongside Prime Minister The Most Hon, Andrew Holness

Another request was also made for the government and the opposition to collaborate on this project, to ensure that the measures are passed without conflict.

“Jamaica is bleeding, and we are at a point of great frustration as citizens. We expect our Prime Minister to lead this process and engage the Opposition with humility and inclusiveness,” stressed the joint force.

They added that the opposition should also reciprocate this behaviour.

List of members in support of requests

The following people are in support of this request:

The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ)
The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC)
Jamaica Manufacturers & Exporters Association (JMEA)
Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association (JHTA)

MSME Alliance
Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ)
The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce & Industry
The Negril Chamber of Commerce
The Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce
The May Pen Chamber of Commerce
Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF)
Jamaica Union of Travellers Association (JUTA)
Dunn’s River Craft Traders Market Association
Ocho Rios Craft Council
Jamaican Craft Traders & Producers Association

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