PM Golding Responds to Amnesty International


Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding has outlined a raft of measures his Government is undertaking to address the social and economic problems facing Jamaica, as highlighted in an Amnesty International report released on Tuesday.
Amnesty International accused the Jamaican Government of stigmatizing and willfully neglecting people living in impoverished communities, by failing to tackle corruption and violence affecting their neighbourhoods.
In a letter to Ms. Kerrie Howard, Deputy Director of Amnesty International, Prime Minister Golding listed the following initiatives as some of the policies his administration has been pursuing in an effort to tackle corruption, criminal violence and police excesses since taking office in September last year: A Bill to establish an independent authority to have statutory responsibility for investigating instances of abuse by members of the security forces will be introduced in Parliament; a separate Bill to establish a Special Coroner to conduct speedy inquests in cases where a citizen dies at the hands of agents of the State will also be taken to Parliament; a new Corruption Prevention Act to include the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate acts of corruption has been drafted and will be tabled in Parliament shortly. This is particularly important because there is clear evidence of significant levels of corruption within the Police Force.
Mr. Golding also pointed out that this year, the Government will commence implementation of the recommendations of the Justice Reform Task Force to improve the island’s court system as an important component in the delivery of justice and the reduction of crime. He also noted that the strategic review of the Police Force has been completed and that a report is due to be submitted by the middle of April.
The Prime Minister said it was expected that its recommendations will address the need for far-reaching changes in the structure, management and accountability of the Police Force.
In order to address the role of politicians and the garrison culture in crime-infested communities, he explained, the Government intends to enact into law significant provisions of the Code of Political Conduct to hold politicians accountable for actions which contribute to the entrenchment of “gangsterism” in these communities.
Meanwhile, he said that budgetary provisions have been made to continue the Citizens Security and Justice Programme which has had a positive impact in community rebuilding and crime reduction in a number of inner-city communities.
Mr. Golding added: “Much of the weight of your report points to the need for social intervention in communities which have suffered from benign neglect for many years and have been virtually taken over by local gang leaders. The Government will continue its efforts to address this social deficit within the fiscal constraints that are its reality. Our decision in September to abolish tuition fees for high schools and our most recent action in removing hospital fees are designed to relieve pressures on household expenditure especially in these communities.

JIS Social