Tue | Aug 22, 2017

No intimidation - Political Ombudsman warns against attempts to thwart the voting process

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2016 | 2:00 AMEdmond Campbell

As voters prepare to go to the polls tomorrow to elect a new government, Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown is appealing to political representatives to encourage their supporters to allow electors to freely exercise their democratic rights without interference, intimidation, violence or utterances that demean people.

The political ombudsman made a special appeal to president of the People's National Party (PNP), Portia Simpson Miller, and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Leader Andrew Holness to send out a message that they intend to achieve victory through fairness.

"I call on all Jamaicans to remember what matters to us most, our households, our families, and the fact of being proud Jamaicans, and that every Jamaican in that context should behave in a manner that does not threaten the safety of others or their right to express their political preference."

Giving an update on the number of formal complaints made to her office, Parchment Brown said more than 20 reports have been received from a small number of constituencies. "They are really about intimidation, interfering with people's campaign activities, defacing banners, billboards and posters," she added.

She said a little more than 100 of the 152 candidates have had no complaints against them. "Most people are behaving within the code as is required of them. The other events seem to be about not controlling one's team adequately and, therefore, certain behaviours that take away from the safety of everyone."

She said there were reports of persons destroying the billboards and banners of candidates. Additionally, there were reports of persons using town criers going around "with scurrilous messages that tend to incite violence, and I am calling on the candidates to bring this to a close now".

SHOOTING REPORTS

Commenting on an incident in Canterbury, St James, on Monday, the political ombudsman said yesterday that reports reaching her office were that the shooting was not politically motivated. However, she said the actions of the hoodlums should be "roundly condemned".

The St James police reported that a gang feud, and not partisan rivalry, led to the shooting injury of four people in the volatile Canterbury community. One has since died.

Head of the division, Senior Superintendent Steve McGregor, yesterday warned political representatives not to make any statement that could suggest it was politically motivated.

He said information showed that the shooting was linked to a feud between residents of Albion Lane and Dallas.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com