Editorial

It would take political guts to reduce murders

Thursday, June 15, 2017

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We have for some time in this space advocated the removal of crime from the partisan political arena to allow for a truly national assault on this scourge as the only way to get on top of our brutally high murder toll — 632 year-to-date.

Cynics believe that such a call is nave. But we are sincerely convinced that while it would take extraordinary guts, it is possible for the major political parties to find common cause in working to make Jamaica relatively crime-free, thereby unleashing the enormous potential for growth, progress and prosperity of this precious island.

It would not be necessary for the political parties to surrender the area of crime policy to a joint endeavour. Therefore, they would still be able to hold the other party to account on the basis of the efficacy and sustainability of the policy ideas and programmes flowing therefrom.

What it would take are three main things:

• the parties would have to agree never again to use crime for political point-scoring;

• they would have to agree to sever all known links to gangs and criminals by not providing safe haven for them; and

• they would have to agree to jointly mobilise their supporters and the country as a whole to support the police in the fight against crime.

The agreement between Opposition People's National Party (PNP) President Dr Peter Phillips and National Security Minister Robert Montague to meet could be the beginning of this momentous forward movement in the fight against crime in Jamaica.

It is clear to everyone that the hypocritical criticism of one party by the other about the rising murder rate has got us nowhere. One can easily conclude that no one party is ever going to devise any policy or programme that will be completely effective in dealing with crime, without the support of the other.

In as much as we are convinced that Prime Minister Andrew Holness is taking a serious and intelligent approach to crime fighting, we beg to disagree with his election campaign promise that Jamaicans would be able to sleep with their doors open again if the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was elected. That is a pipe dream.

Off all the things that the two major political parties can do, the most critical action is the mobilisation of the people. Everywhere in the world that crime has gone down substantially, the people have co-operated, telling the police what they see and where criminals are hiding out.

With the parties working together, it will encourage those who fear reprisals and those who subscribe to the 'informa fi dead' mentality to come off their folly ground.

We accept that giving up the criminals who have served the parties might be the most difficult thing to do, but they should be disarmed and the police must continue their investigation of the wrongs they were involved in.

It is instructive that Mr Edward Seaga submitted a list of 13 names of people he said were criminals in his West Kingston constituency to then Police Commissioner Robert MacMillan. That was after he had lost control over them to the drug dealers.

Many members of parliament have long lost control over the criminal elements in their party. Let's hope they can find the political guts to do what is right.

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