Tue | Sep 22, 2020

Gov’t, opposition and stakeholder groups ink anti-crime strategy

Published:Monday | August 3, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right) and Leader of the Opposition, Dr Peter Phillips, at the signing of the National Consensus on Crime at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on August 3, 2020 – Rudolph Brown photo

Members of Parliament found guilty of involvement, being complicit in corruption, or facilitating criminal activity must be immediately sanctioned by their political parties and be subject to criminal charges, if deemed warranted, by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).

This forms part of a plethora of decisions set out in a National Consensus document on crime, which was signed earlier today by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.

It also states that any minister of government found guilty of involvement or complicity in corruption or facilitating criminal activity must resign and be subject to criminal charges, if deemed warranted, by the ODPP.

The Consensus document also calls for political parties to repudiate and reject any links to gangs or other organisations that are known or suspected to be involved in criminality.

Members of public boards must be appointed solely on the basis of merit, relevant experience, and qualifications, the document states.

Under the caption ‘Prevent corruption and money laundering’, the document also commits the political directorate to introduce legislation to establish unexplained wealth and reverse the burden of proof in Jamaica.

In cases where people cannot or will not account for significant wealth, the courts will be empowered to conclude that it represents the proceeds of crime and is, therefore, subject to seizure.

With some 300 gangs in the country, the Government and Opposition pledged to work with stakeholders, including civil society, to permanently dismantle the most violent and influential criminal gangs.

The Proceeds of Crime Act will be reviewed to strengthen it where necessary and to improve the ability of the courts to seize the assets of gang members.

A raft of ‘priorities and actions’ with stipulated deadlines have been agreed to by the prime minister and leader of the Opposition and other stakeholders, including unions, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, the Jamaica Council of Churches, and National Integrity Action, among others.

A monitoring and oversight committee will be named by the end of August to ensure that the timelines and targets are met in relation to the decisions and priorities set out in the Consensus document.

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