Private sector and civil society groups call for SOEs to continue
Ahead of Friday‘s expected vote by the senate on the request to extend the states of public emergency, several private sector and civil society groups are calling for the measure to be continued.
They highlighted among other things, the marked decline in murders, the need for the measure to remain in place over the Christmas season, the security forces recommendation for the SOE to be used, the pending enhanced security measures legislation which requires collaboration between the government and the opposition, as well as the need for political maturity.
When the Upper House meets on Friday, the resolution will need to be supported by at least one opposition senator in order for the SOE extension to take effect.
The opposition did not support the resolution during Tuesday‘s vote in the Lower House, neither has it supported past requests for an SOE extension, citing continued concern about constitutional violations.
The government used its majority to pass the resolution, which is seeking to extend the SOE until January 14 next year.
In a statement today, 15 groups representing stakeholders in the commerce, tourism and human resource sectors called on the opposition to support an extension of the SOE’s.
Among the groups are the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ); the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC); Jamaica Manufacturers & Exporters Association (JMEA); Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association (JHTA); and the Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF).
The private sector and civil society groups stated that they support the extension of the s–o–e, and urged the senate to pass the extension, on the condition that the government addresses outstanding key issues, critical in achieving full opposition’s support until January 14, 2023, in the select parishes where SOEs were declared.
The groups noted that murders have significantly declined since the SOEs were declared on November 15.
They cited data showing 63 murders being recorded the weeks before the declaration of the SOEs, and that 12 murders were recorded in the first week of the SOEs.
The groups said that since Wednesday, within the parishes and specific zones where SOEs were declared, murders have recorded a dip from 21 for the period November 7 to 14, to 6 for the period November 15 to 22.
The groups also noted that the SOEs can help to save lives.
They said Jamaicans islandwide are living in a state of fear and anxiety and consider the crime situation a chronic crisis.
The groups said while the use of SOEs to contain the current surge of crime and violence is not a long-term solution, it has demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing murders.
They recommended that these emergency measures be employed over the Christmas period as a surge in criminal activity is the norm during this time of year, as criminal elements look to rob, extort, and murder, to increase ill-gotten gains.