Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says no institution of the State should use or promote violence.
“The Government has to be instrumental, deliberate and proactive in its message against violence. No institution of the State should use or promote violence and that is why I have given clear policy direction to our security forces that we must use force without violence,” he said.
Mr. Holness was speaking at the annual ‘Heal the Family, Heal the Nation’ National Day of Prayer service at the Power of Faith Ministries in Portmore, St. Catherine, on January 6.
“Force is the strategic mobilisation and deployment of all resources, manpower and otherwise, to take full control of a domain…violence is the last thing that you want to use and even then if the State uses it, it must be under control, and if violence is used, it must be investigated, especially if it results in the loss of a life,” the Prime Minister reasoned.
Mr. Holness reiterated the Government’s prohibition policy on corporal punishment, and emphasised that gender-based violence should be dealt with urgently.
“We cannot have the correction of our children in public institutions which depend on violence… .We cannot countenance domestic and intimate partner relationships which are built on violence and when you go to the police station they tell you ‘it’s man and woman business’. It can’t be man and woman business; it has an effect on our society and it must be treated and dealt with,” he said.
The Prime Minister noted that violence has become too much a part of the country’s culture as a means of resolving conflict or disciplining a child, and called on support of the church in addressing the issue.
“Why is it that other societies have long understood that using violence to correct their children does not promote the emotional, social and economic intelligence of their population. Only the church can correct that and so today I put it on the altar of the church for consideration. We have an epidemic of violence and we cannot at the same time promote the ultimate tool of propagation of violence,” he argued.
Meanwhile, he noted that the Violence Prevention Commission, chaired by Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan, is operational.
The Commission will seek to conduct a continuing comprehensive review of all existing public and private violence prevention programmes as well as the strategies of the Government.
“The Commission is now fully provisioned with staffing, they have their terms of reference and they are operating. They will be coming back to the Government after a comprehensive review,” Mr. Holness disclosed.
He said the Commission will be examining all aspects of violence and ways to address them, to ensure lasting solutions in the country.
The Prime Minister noted that there are many countries that are poorer than Jamaica and do not have Jamaica’s murder rate.
“We have a violence epidemic. You are the people that have a significant role to play by virtue of your membership in the institution of God, and I call upon you today as you pray for the healing of the nation, to pray for peace in the hearts of men,” Mr. Holness said.
For his part, Opposition Leader, Mark Golding, hailed organisers of the service, and urged Jamaicans “to seek healing for our nation by building our communities, by making a collective commitment to doing right, by seeking justice and by helping the less fortunate than ourselves”.
The annual event was hosted by the Power of Faith Ministries International Inc. and the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches, under the theme, ‘We Shall be Victorious’.