Yesterday, representatives of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) met separately with the leader and senior members of the Peoples National Party and then the Prime Minister of Jamaica and the Attorney General, regarding the current impasse surrounding the renewal of the current state of emergency.
The discussions were forthright and comprehensive and covered all the substantive issues raised by the recent parliamentary debate. The private sector understands that the matters of crime and citizen security cannot be the subject of narrow partisan interest or political
gamesmanship. Howard Mitchell, President of the PSOJ noted that “The PSOJ believes that the issues expressed by both parties can and must be resolved immediately. If there is a question about legality of the State of Emergency, it can be resolved by an urgent application to our Courts and if the issues relate to human rights deficiencies then the Government must remedy those deficiencies. Disunity in fighting crime cannot be supported by us.”
We are also mindful of the fact that though the nation’s security is primarily the responsibility of the ruling administration, the parliamentary opposition shares that responsibility to our citizens as they too are a part of our democratically elected government. As such, our request was first and foremost for both parties to meet and determine a unified national approach for the restoration of normality and peace in our country. We have obtained their commitment to have dialogue, which must now immediately occur both in and out of parliament. “Crime is one of the greatest risks to our people and having an enduring state. We trust that both parties
will act with the level of maturity required and do the right thing to make Jamaica a safe place to live, work, raise families and do business”, said Metry Seaga, President of the JMEA.
We are therefore holding our parliamentary representatives responsible to arrive at a unified approach by returning to parliament and resolving the impasse in short order. These discussions must speak to a clear framework for anti-crime initiatives that also extend beyond
a State of Emergency.
According to JCC President, Lloyd Distant, “The private sector representatives noted the firm acknowledgement of both Government and Opposition that a State of Emergency is not, by definition, a situation that is meant to last indefinitely or which should be normalized, as it
inevitably impacts the rights and freedoms of citizens. With this point of agreement, it cannot be beyond both sides to arrive at a consensus and agree on the way forward bearing in mind the larger interest of our citizenry”.
In the meantime, the private sector will continue to consult with other interest groups and stakeholders with the intent of encouraging our elected representatives to urgently achieve that solution.
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