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JM | Nov 16, 2022

PSOJ backs new SOEs, but stresses long-term solutions still needed

Tamoy Ashman

Tamoy Ashman / Our Today

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Keith Duncan, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ). (Photo: Contributed)

Amid mixed reactions to the Government’s latest implementation of states of public emergency (SOPEs) in select locations across the island, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) has expressed its support of the announcement while adding that long-term measures are needed.

The SOPEs were announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday (November 15), on the recommendation of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), as a means of cauterizing the escalating crime rate. 

“With over 1,300 murders to date, the country is operating in crisis mode,” the PSOJ stated in a release today (November 16).

The organisation further noted that Jamaica ranks among the top five murder rates globally and “violent deaths have almost become normalised”.

Though it is in support of the SOPEs, the PSOJ said there was an urgent need to implement medium- to long-term measures to reduce crime, because SOPEs are a short-term solution.

The strategy being implemented by the JCF to target 300 suspected criminals, for whom it has developed intelligence files, was also recognised by the PSOJ.

But, if the SOPEs are extended, it is the hope of the PSOJ that the Government and the Opposition can align on the proposed strategy in a meaningful way.

Sustainable Reduction in Crime 

According to the PSOJ, the only way to substantively reduce crimes is through a holistic plan that reformulates the JCF, legislation, justice and correctional services systems, and social and educational transformation. 

“All these pillars are included in the National Consensus on Crime, to which both the Government and the Opposition are signatories and should be actively pursued,” the PSOJ stated.  

Furthermore, the PSOJ noted that reference was made in the National Consensus on Crime to the creation of the Enhanced Security Measures Act (ESMA) as a medium-term crime fighting tool.

The organisation also urged the Opposition and the Government to collaborate and engage in discussions in relation to the implementation of the ESMA.

“The PSOJ believes that the same way Jamaica has approached the COVID-19 pandemic and the IMF agreements of 2013-2019, with a singular focus, the National Consensus on Crime pillars require the same high level of prioritisation and bi-partisan commitment.”

Prime Minister Andrew Holness shakes hands with Opposition Leader Mark Golding on the resumption of the Vale Royal Talks in, February. (Photo: Twitter @MarkJGolding)

The organisation added that, until Jamaica can see progress in these areas, violent crimes will remain at emergency and crisis levels. 

Legislation 

Also recommended by the PSOJ as a means to tackle crime in the country was an update to legislation.

The organisation acknowledged that The Firearms Act is a step in the right direction, but that an update is needed on outstanding critical legislative reviews and drafting, including: 

  • The Bail Act 
  • Unexplained Wealth 
  • Amendments to the Dangerous Drug Act 
  • Amendments to the Corrections Act 

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