Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Reject political violence!

Published:Saturday | December 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Dorothy Pine-McLarty, chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica.

Dorothy Pine-McLarty, chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, has called on every law-abiding Jamaican to reject "any attempt by anyone anywhere to introduce political-related violence during the period leading up to the next general election or thereafter".

Pine-McLarty, in a statement issued yesterday, said Jamaica was a world leader in electoral reform and this must be protected.

"We are politically mature as a country and, therefore, political-related violence must have no place in the continued modernisation of our democracy and our electoral system," Pine-McLarty said.

She cited no specific incident of political violence, but, instead focused on preventing it from occurring in the first place.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Ealan Powell, who is in charge of the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), confirmed that the police have seen no evidence of politically related violence across the country.

"We haven't seen any violence that can be directly attributed to political dealings," Powell said.

The senior cop's comments come in the wake of two deadly shootings in Newlands, St Catherine, where it was alleged that a supporter of one political party was killed because she objected to the colours of another party being mounted on a utility pole in front of her house.

"We still have not confirmed that it is directly related to politics," Powell said.

In her statement yesterday, Pine-McLarty said that civil society groups should take a stand against political violence to prevent it from happening.

"In the same way, the PSOJ, other business groups, and civil society recently called on the two main political leaders to commit to good economic governance after the elections. We urge a similar stance in relation to the call for no political-related violence during the election campaign," Pine-McLarty said.

"Our political leaders, every single candidate representing the island's 63 constituencies, must speak out. They have a duty to this country to publicly declare their rejection of political violence and any harm to the electoral process. This is a critical symbolic gesture as we must do everything to make the next general election one of the most peaceful elections in the recent modern history of Jamaica. This is possible. We must make it happen," she added.

Political violence on the decline

Powell told The Gleaner that political violence has not been pervasive in the last few national elections.

"We have been seeing, generally, a downturn in those activities, and we are sincerely hoping that will continue," the senior cop said.

At least four persons were killed and several others injured as a direct result of political conflict in the lead-up to the 2011 general election, a report card on incidents of political violence prepared by the Office of the Political Ombudsman has revealed.