A call by Opposition People’s National Party Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Lisa Hanna for both political parties to “blockade” themselves with experts and crime reports inside Gordon House for at least a three-day period to hammer out a plan to address the spate of violence in the country has been dubbed “dramatic” by gender activist and Crime Monitoring and Oversight Committee (CMOC) member Dr Nadeen Spence.
“When it is convenient for Government and Opposition to lean on a CMOC, they do, and then when it is near to election time and they need to throw punches at each other they forget that the rest of us are supposed to be sitting in consultation with each other on the matter of crime,” Dr Spence told the Jamaica Observer on Sunday.
Hanna, in her weekly column in the Observer’s The Agenda, made an impassioned plea for Prime Minister Andrew Holness to “drop everything and call all of us to Parliament for three to five days”.
“We are to emerge from the House with a plan to solve violence in our country, with the attendant legislation to match. The Vale Royal talks are taking too long, and we are tired of seeing the post-PR pics. Call us to Parliament to do this particular work for the people we serve. Bring all the reports and the experts; let us make decisions together as one Parliament. Broadcast all the proceedings live to the general public so they are aware of the deliberations,” Hanna said.
“If the prime minister truly means ‘enough is enough’, then business as usual cannot be his mainstay. The killing and hurting of our people should not be a political issue. Tackling this violent crime culture requires the cooperation of all of us. Therefore, he must use the Parliament effectively. Let both political parties press pause on the campaigning. The people are crying out, and it’s time we check our egos at the door and come together in a bipartisan moment for the best interest of our country,” she said.
According to Hanna, action must be taken before Jamaicans get frustrated enough to corral parliamentarians themselves.
However, Dr Spence, who is the Women’s Coalition nominee on CMOC, when contacted by the Observer for her opinion on Hanna’s proposal, said there is a crime plan and the respective organs, have been doing their part.
“There are some things in the crime plan that the Government and other critical State actors have committed to that they haven’t delivered on, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t have plans,” she said.
“There is a framework that the parties that are critical to the process are working through, that’s why we have CMOC, which is monitoring the response. And while there are some areas, especially the legislative areas, that the Government is lagging in, it doesn’t mean that there is not a comprehensive crime plan.”
Added Dr Spence, “We are monitoring the response to see what are the things they say they are doing to see a downturn in crime. CMOC is staying committed to the monitoring of the crime plan because we think it will work if Government and Opposition are committed. So what Miss Hanna is pointing out is that the issue with our crime problem is the inability of both the critical partners in the consensus — the Government and the Opposition — to stick to the commitment that they made. They made a commitment and they are the ones who keep going out to say all kinds of rubbish.”
“We have a consensus on crime. To me, going back and talking about getting to a consensus would seem as if we don’t have consensus on crime,” she stated.
The Observer was unsuccessful in its attempts to contact CMOC Chair Lloyd Distant.
CMOC, which was established in 2020, is an independent body comprising non-partisan stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, academia, and the political directorate with a mandate to set goals aimed at mitigating crime and reporting to the public. It provides an independent overview of the efficacy and efficiency of the programmes agreed through the process of national consensus and keeps the public engaged on the progress of reducing crime, violence, and corruption in Jamaica.