Sun | May 19, 2019

PM, ombudsman hit out at Bloomfield trolls

Published:Wednesday | February 6, 2019 | 7:09 AM

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown have warned against inflammatory social-media posts attributing the killing of Eastern Portland Member of Parliament Dr Lynvale Bloomfield to political hacks.

Holness, in his tribute in the House of Representatives yesterday afternoon, inveighed against persons who sought to exploit Bloomfield’s passing for political gain.

“I call upon the supporters of the JLP (Jamaica Labour Party), I call upon the supporters of the PNP (People’s National Party), that there need not be any quarrel between us over the death of someone who gave his life to serving the Jamaica people,” he asserted.

Speaking on the issue yesterday, Parchment Brown told The Gleaner that both Holness, leader of the JLP, and Dr Peter Phillips, opposition leader and president of the PNP, should reprimand party supporters who were hell-bent on creating political mischief.

“I am actually hoping that the leaders of the JLP and the PNP will rebuke their supporters or members who are putting out posts that are not capable of being substantiated. These are counterproductive and run counter to the spirit of our maturing political landscape, when we have lost a servant of the people to such violent act,” Parchment Brown said in a telephone interview on Tuesday afternoon.

She further argued that social-media attacks and unfounded allegations run the risk of bringing both parties into disrepute and might incite violence.

“What’s been happening, in fact, since the untimely passing of Dr Bloomfield is that a number of individuals seem to be having a field day on social media, generating unsubstantiated allegations of various types, and these have come to my attention.

“This is a matter of grave concern, and as the political ombudsman, I have no credible information or evidence as to the cause of the death of the late MP, or as to who may or may not been involved in the tragic circumstances of his death,” she added.

Meantime, Western Portland Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz, in paying tribute to Bloomfield at yesterday’s sitting of Parliament, implored users of traditional and new media not to meddle in the investigation.

urged caution

“I want to further make a call to the mainstream media houses, along with the users of social media, to act in a responsible and professional manner which will allow the police to speedily investigate this unfortunate case of murder.

“These actions will allow for our colleague to be mourned with the dignity and respect which he showed to all whom he encountered during his tenure as MP,” added Vaz, who fondly remembered his neighbouring MP as a gentleman.

Yesterday, PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson announced at a press conference at the party’s Old Hope Road, St Andrew, headquarters that a $500,000 reward was being offered for finding the killer(s).

Parchment Brown said that it would be worthwhile for those with credible information to contact the police so that an arrest can be made, while cautioning the public to resist political incitement.

“I would urge the public to cease and desist from all posting on social media relating to the passing of the gentleman that is not beneficial. So if people are feeling hurt or upset or have opinions, there is no need to publish those opinions in the public space, and so bring individuals and organisations into disrepute, create hurt and harm in the process in ways that will breach the agreement and declaration of political conduct.”

Parchment Brown said that Section Four of the Code of Political Conduct forbids statements that may incite people to act negatively by alleging violence.

In addition, she pointed out that defamation was also forbidden under Section Four of the code.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com

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