Mon | Sep 26, 2022

PM courts consensus in battle against violence

Published:Friday | August 12, 2022 | 5:40 AM

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is calling for greater enforcement of legislation to limit violence from state actors.

Speaking at the launch of the National Commission on Violence Prevention at Jamaica House Thursday, Holness said such a reduction would be an important first step in tackling the country’s crisis of violence.

Holness said while successive administrations have managed to curb extrajudicial killings, there are still other elements of state violence that need to be addressed.

“We need to treat with state violence in our schools, whether it is between students and teachers, or students and students. And we need to treat with state violence in our other institutions which hold citizens, either at children’s homes or prisons or other such entities,” the prime minister said.

He added: “We have legislation in place, certainly for children’s homes and for others in state care, but I think greater attention and enforcement is needed to ensure that violence coming from state actors is minimal.”

Additionally, Holness advocated for creating “a space” for his administration and the parliamentary Opposition “where the treatment of violence is not contested politically”, noting that it was difficult to make important reforms in a democracy.

“In a democracy, you need consensus,” said Holness, citing as evidence the success of the Independent Commission of Investigations, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, as well as fiscal policies.

The prime minister urged political actors to put aside their interests by coming face to face with facts. He lamented the establishment of the Crime Monitoring Oversight Committee had not yet fulfilled the promise of political consensus on crime.

“I’m hoping that having taken this approach where we have asked an independent body to analyse the data and say to the Government, ‘Here is what needs to be done’; and to the Opposition as well, ‘Here is what needs to be done’, the political class, confronted with this factual set of data, recommendations, and conclusions, would then have to look at it and come to a reasonable understanding as to what we need to implement,” he added.

Meanwhile, commission chairman, Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan, told The Gleaner that the evidence reviewed by the group so far suggests that public education is needed to apprise the society on the impact of violence.

“There has to be this consensus among Jamaicans that we don’t want crime,” she said.