Political ombudsman urges restraint in posting of campaign signage
Political ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown is encouraging candidates in the February 25 General Elections, and their supporters, to refrain from mounting flags and other campaign signage on public facilities.
She repeated the call while speaking at the signing of the Political Code of Conduct by candidates contesting the four constituencies in St Elizabeth, at the St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), in Santa Cruz.
While acknowledging that the use of flags has been a longstanding tradition of Jamaica's political parties, Parchment Brown said the placement of these on public facilities, including utility poles, represents what she described as a "clear and present danger" to the society, on a whole.
"I get so many calls from people who have been openly expressing their displeasure with the flags being placed all over the place, and really want something to be done about it," she stated.
The political ombudsman said while the use of flags in campaigning is understandable, "the public good... has to supersede any other consideration".
FLAGS A DETERRENT
"I think it is an accepted view, especially by those who are not heavily involved in the political process, that when they see the flags in an area, it causes them to pause... while some people change their route because they feel intimidated," she pointed out.
She urged the candidates to abide by their parties' undertakings to minimise the use of flags, particularly where this is, or may be, regarded as defacing property, or intimidatory.
She advised the candidates that by signing the Political Code of Conduct, they were committing to a peaceful campaign and elections that would reflect positively on Jamaica's democracy.
"Let's now say that we are going to chart a better way forward. The fact that a great majority of the candidates across Jamaica have voluntarily come forward and signed this Code of Conduct, it speaks volumes of your sincerity to the process and your willingness to sign on to peace and decency, and Jamaica is proud of you," the political ombudsman said.