Sat | Mar 24, 2018

#JaVotes2016: Bar Association appeals for peace during election campaign

Published:Tuesday | February 9, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The Jamaican Bar Association has denounced any threat or acts of violence in any form against politicians, political parties, and their supporters.

In a statement yesterday, the Bar Association said that it was raising extreme concern about, and condemned, a shooting that occurred during a political mass rally that left three persons dead and several injured in Montego Bay, St James, on Sunday night.

"While the reasons behind the shooting are unclear and are being investigated, and whether the shooting incident was politically motivated or not, the fact is that the shooting occurred during the speech of the leader of the opposition (Andrew Holness) and resulted in his security detail removing him from the platform, bringing a premature end to that rally, thus interfering with the democratic process on which the Jamaican system of political governance is founded," the Bar Association said.

Did not appear to be political

The police have since indicated that the shooting did not appear to be politically motivated.

"As Jamaicans, we are better than this. Our association notes the swift condemnation of the shooting by both major political parties as well as the unequivocal stand against political violence that each party is taking in its commitment to respect and uphold the democratic process of elections to which our people are constitutionally entitled," the Bar Association said.

"We urge the Jamaica Constabulary Force as well as the Office of the Political Ombudsman to immediately take all steps to intervene, investigate, identify, stop, and prevent all acts of violence, intimidation, threats, and corruption that could mar the political process. Likewise, political parties must not tolerate brutish and violent conduct by their members and supporters and should take steps to identify and root out persons who want to see a culture of political violence grow and thrive in our parties."

The Jamaican Bar Association is urging citizens to freely participate in the political process as follows:

1. Those who are qualified, duly registered, and intend to vote, to cast their vote in a considered manner and not for graft, money, or gifts.

2. To report all acts of political violence, intimidation, corruption; and breaches of the political code of conduct to the police and/or the political ombudsman.

3. To volunteer and support civil-

society groups that monitor elections such as Citizens' Action for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE).

4. Call upon the aspirants for political office to participate in public debates so we can better understand their manifestos, policies, and to observe their conduct and demeanour when under media and public scrutiny.

5. Those who are active supporters of political parties to support your parties in the best democratic traditions and to do so lawfully and peacefully, avoiding participation in acts of violence, intimidation, corruption, and any breach of agreed codes of political conduct.