Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is calling on candidates involved in the 2020 General Election to conduct their campaign activities free of intimidation and confrontational and violent practices.
“It is not necessary in modern Jamaica… . It is something that we should eschew, we should repudiate and we should be on every platform instructing our supporters not to participate in it,” he said.
Mr. Holness was addressing the signing ceremony for the Code of Political Conduct held at Emancipation Park in St. Andrew on Wednesday (August 19).
The Prime Minister, who is Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), signed the document along with Leader of the People’s National Party (PNP), Dr. Peter Phillips.
The Prime Minister said he has made it clear that he is totally against any violent or intimidatory conduct and if it comes to his attention that supporters are engaging in such practices, “I would definitely see to their prosecution”.
He noted that for the Code to be “real and not just a symbol”, the General Election must be held without these unacceptable practices.
The Prime Minister said he believes that the time has come to classify political crimes as hate crimes, suggesting that suspected incidents should be “deliberately investigated to discover if there was any motivation that was political”.
“That is the only way that we are going to genuinely and truly remove this potential from our country,” he noted.
Dr. Phillips, in his remarks, said that in order for the Code of Political Conduct to contribute to a culture change, “it is going to require the engagement of all the key stakeholders”.
He said that political leaders have a responsibility to measure their words and comments and to ensure that they do not wittingly or unwittingly contribute to violence or confrontation by “loose tongues”.
“Candidates need to exercise tolerance and display tolerance and goodwill and exercise influence over their supporters so that harmony can be the watchword and the reality on the political campaign trail rather than an atmosphere of confrontation and ill will,” he stressed.
Political Ombudsman, Donna Parchment Brown, for her part, informed that copies of the document will be sent electronically to every candidate, who will sign it with their campaign manager.
“We ask them to print, sign and return to their parish Custos or to the Office of the Political Ombudsman. This is out of regard for the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, so we don’t want to be hosting 14 events in parishes during this challenging time,” she said.
Custos Rotulorum for St. Andrew, Hon. Patricia Dunwell, charged the politicians “to exercise authority and wisdom, to encourage all Jamaicans to play their part in making the 2020 election period a peaceful one”.
“We charge you to conduct your campaign within the letter and spirit of our laws and the Code of Conduct,” she said.
By the symbolic signing, Mr. Holness and Dr. Phillips called on candidates, party officials, members and supporters to uphold, wholeheartedly, the terms of the Code of Political Conduct.
The document governs the actions of the JLP, PNP and all other legitimate political parties in Jamaica and applies to all officials of political parties.
The code stipulates eight principles – non-violence and non-intimidation, safety of private and public property, avoidance of confrontation, public utterances, freedom of access, avoidance of defacing of buildings and installation, code of ethics, and political tribalism.