JIS News

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  • A motion, recommending that lobby groups be regulated, has been referred to the Internal and External Affairs Committee of the Houses of Parliament.
  • The motion calls for legislation that would require civil society groups “to protect Jamaica’s democracy from...hidden agendas”.
  • Mr. Pryce argued that civil society groups can be “hijacked”.

A motion, recommending that lobby groups be regulated, has been referred to the Internal and External Affairs Committee of the Houses of Parliament, to enable these groups to make submissions on the matter.

The motion, among other things, calls on the House to debate the need for legislation that would require civil society groups, special interest groups and lobby groups “to protect Jamaica’s democracy from any such compromise, as could be caused by unknown or tainted sources of funds or hidden agendas”.

Member of Parliament for North East St. Elizabeth, Raymond Pryce, who moved the motion, said many civil society organisations have indicated that their preference would not be for a debate within the Lower House as this would not allow them to participate.

“So I believe the suggestion that enables them to come and (make) submissions, then, that would actually enrich the process,” Mr. Pryce said, during Tuesday’s (November 26) sitting of the House of Representatives.

Mr. Pryce stated that he wages “no war against democracy or public advocacy and, indeed, no war against civil society.”

“My war is for democracy, for freedom of speech, and for the right for civil society organisations to advocate on behalf of various groupings across the Jamaican population,” he stated.

He argued that civil society groups, which are able to influence the formation of public opinion, can themselves, if they are not careful, be “hijacked” or otherwise compromised by those who would rather use such bodies to advance their political or partisan agendas.

The motion also stated that it is becoming normal in many other jurisdictions for legislation to be promulgated, which mandates civil society groups and other special interest groups or lobbyists to be registered and to publish certified and audited financial statements.