JIS News

Prime Minister P. J. Patterson and Mr. Bruce Golding, Leader of the Opposition have agreed to have their elected Members of Parliament declare in writing their commitment not to knowingly associate with criminals nor accept financial support from them. Senators, Mayors, Councillors and Caretakers will also be required to make this commitment. They said that political representatives will not seek to exercise influence or to impede the security forces in the exercise of their duties.
The Political Ombudsman will be provided with the authority by legislation, if necessary to investigate breaches. Erring members will also be reported to their respective Political Party for appropriate action.
Both leaders were responding to the PSOJ’s 2005 Declaration of Emancipation Park at a meeting with members of the private sector at Jamaica House this evening (May 30, 2005)
A Committee headed by the Political Ombudsman will be established to begin implementing recommendations contained in the Report on National Committee on Political Tribalism, (Kerr Report), which would address the matter of the dismantling of garrisons. The Committee will include representatives from the private sector and human rights groups.
A Joint Select Committee on Security will be established before the end of this week to consider further capacity enhancing measures as well as material support for the security forces. The Committee is expected to report to Parliament before the current term ends in July.
The Committee will also consider submissions and a raft of legislation that will be tabled in Parliament by the end of July 2005. Among them will be the plea-bargaining, electronic surveillance and finger print legislation, Proceeds of Crime Act, amendments of the Interception of Communications Act and the Evidence Act. It is intended that witnesses, especially those in the Witness Protection Programme, will be allowed to give evidence by video link in order not to compromise their safety.
Parliament may suspend some of the programmed Debates or extend sittings beyond July in order to complete the legislative programme.
The Prime Minister indicated an intention to have preliminary enquiries abolished to speed up trials and reduce the likelihood of witnesses disappearing.
In keeping with the Declaration, a Police Oversight Body will be established to monitor and report on the performance of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Changes are being proposed which would allow for police officers who no longer enjoy the confidence of the Commissioner to be retired in the public interest
The Private Sector will work with the Jamaica Constabulary Force to develop methods of addressing the problems associated with extortion.
Meanwhile, the implementation of social programmes that were announced in the Prime Minister’s Budget presentation will begin in August.
Those in attendance at this evening’s meeting included the presidents of the Private Sector Associations and senior members of the Government and Opposition.

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