At a press conference, yesterday, Dr. Phillips reiterated his call for a united front, grounded in sincerity and courage, to fight the scourge of crime and criminality in Jamaica.
He said there had been many attempts before, beginning with the January 7, 2019, Vale Royal Talks. At that meeting, “Commitments were given by the government, meeting dates were set, and they were all broken. Urgent follow-up opportunities were missed, and it was not until November 11, 2019, that a meeting was convened under the auspices of the PSOJ and JMEA,” Dr. Phillips noted.
He said that a united national effort, involving the mobilisation of the entire society is the only way forward. He is again urging a broad national initiative at the level of the Vale Royal talks as the nation is at a critical juncture in its crime-fighting efforts. Dr. Phillips said we must forge a national consensus on solving the issue of crime and violence and deliver a safer and better Jamaica for all.
“The nation is now in a panic - in communities, towns, and amongst business owners. The current administration is obviously at a loss as to what to do,” he said. Dr. Phillips quoted the Prime Minister in a recent statement acknowledging that the crime problem is beyond their capacity. The Prime Minister stated in part that the crime problem is “currently over and above (their) established capacity to address it.”
After four years, there is still no established national plan to confront crime. We are witnessing panic, fright and in some areas, surrender,” Dr. Phillips lamented.
The Opposition Leader said new policies to address inequality – the root of the crime crisis - must be found and implemented.
“One cannot hope to understand the roots of crimes in Jamaica without understanding the deep social inequality and marginalisation, which has condemned many citizens to hopelessness. This situation of disparity and injustice has, in turn, provided a fertile environment for criminal organisations to recruit support from these very same people who see no other option for advancement in life,” Dr. Phillips said.
He pointed to the need for better operational support for the security forces as well as the necessity of uniting the Jamaican people and organisations in the fight.
“We are fully aware that dealing with the epidemic of crime cannot be an overnight fix. However, unless we begin and until we approach it with sustained commitment, sincerity and courage, the people of Jamaica will continue to experience this vortex of murder, shootings, robbery, and terrorism,” the opposition leader pointed out.
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