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Dropping rights group as charity a 'nonsensical' move - JLP spokesman

Published:Friday | May 1, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Kent Gammon

Deputy Opposition Spokesman on Justice Kent Gammon yesterday urged the Government to quickly resolve the status of human-rights group Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) as a charitable organisation.

Gammon said the Opposition was "extremely concerned" by the possibility of the "victimisation of an organisation that has stridently championed human-rights issues in Jamaica and defended the rights of the poor and other marginalised persons".

Gammon noted that JFJ's recent application to be granted charitable status under the Charities Act, which was rejected, was due to concerns regarding the group's advocacy for legislative change.

"There is nothing in the Charities Act that precludes a charitable organisation from advocating for legislative changes, so the rationale for the rejection is unsubstantiated and borders on nonsensical," Gammon said.

Act of victimisation

In questioning the rejection of the application, Gammon said: "The rejection by the Government's Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies of JFJ's application to renew its charity status has to be considered an act of victimisation."

He added: "We must ask ourselves; for what other reason would the designation of JFJ as a charitable organisation be terminated, than for the purpose of victimising them for advancing positions with which the Government does not find favour? The situation is deserving of answers and must be quickly resolved as the organisation has enjoyed charitable status since its inception over a decade ago and has been doing admirable work."

The deputy spokesman is imploring the Government's Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies to immediately reinstate the charitable status of JFJ so the organisation can function effectively and continue serving as an important check-and-balance against human-rights violations.