Private Sector and Civil Society Groups Implore the Opposition to Support Extension of SOEs

On November 25th, 2022, the Senate will debate the extension of the States of Public Emergency (SOEs) until January 14, 2023, in the select parishes where SOEs were declared on November 15, 2022.

This broad-based grouping of Private Sector and Civil Society supports the extension of the SOE and urges 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 on November 15, 2022.

Murders have Declined Since SOEs Declared

Since the declaration of the SOEs on November 15, we have seen murders decline significantly nationally, and in the parishes where the SOEs were declared nine days ago.

Nationally, the data shows 63 murders being recorded the weeks before the declaration of the SOEs. Data shows that 12 murders were recorded in the first week of the declaration of SOEs. This is a significant decline.

Since yesterday, within the parishes and specific zones where SOEs were declared murders have recorded a dip from 21 for the period November 7th-14th to 6 from November 15th-22nd.

The data demonstrates that SOEs can help to save lives.

Appeal for Extension of SOEs through the Christmas period until January 14, 2023

Jamaicans across the length and breadth of the country are living in a state of fear and anxiety and consider the crime situation a chronic crisis. 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.

We recommend that these emergency measures be employed over the Christmas period as a surge in criminal activity is the norm during this time as criminal elements look to rob, extort, and murder, to increase ill-gotten gains.

JCF and JDF Recommend the SOEs 

The leadership of the JCF and JDF recommend the extension of SOEs to mitigate the loss of lives. This temporary measure, we anticipate, will ease the constant bloodletting, and enable law-abiding citizens to enjoy the holiday season.

SOEs are an Interim Measure 

We agree that SOEs should not be a routine measure in normal times but believe that the trend in recent months suggests that we need additional measures now to disrupt criminal networks as soon as possible in order to reduce violent crimes and murder.

Enhanced Security Measures 

We are aware that the Enhanced Security Measures (ESM) have been outstanding from Q-1 of 2021 as signed off in the Crime Monitoring & Oversight Committee (CMOC) consensus agreement. We acknowledge that there has been progress, but this deliverable requires finalisation.

The Enhanced Security Measures will provide greater powers in the law to target, detain and neutralise known violence producers by providing strong intelligence to the Justice system.

Collaboration of GoJ and Opposition on the Drafting and Passage of the ESM 

The Opposition leader has indicated in Parliament that he has proposed a framework for the ESM and the Prime Minister has indicated that these measures are being drafted.

We strongly recommend that the GoJ collaborates with the Opposition on drafting the ESM with a heightened sense of urgency to ensure that it has the smoothest possible passage through the lower and upper houses so the measures can be utilised in the shortest possible time frame. We recommend that the draft legislation is brought to the lower house before the expiry of the SOEs on January 14, 2023.

Political Maturity required 

Jamaica is bleeding, and we are at a point of great frustration as citizens. We expect our Prime Minister to lead this process and engage the Opposition with humility and inclusiveness. We are hopeful that the Opposition will reciprocate.

We strongly encourage the GoJ to consider suggested changes made by the Opposition on the clauses of the Emergency Power Regulations once they don’t reduce the effectiveness of the SOE.

The Private Sector and Civil Society encourage a unified approach to crime fighting, one that is without politicisation. The citizens of Jamaica deserve the right to life and to raise their families in a society that will allow them to do so without fear.

We must win the war.

The following groups are supporting this appeal:

  • The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ)
  • The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC)
  • Jamaica Manufacturers & Exporters Association (JMEA)
  • Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association (JHTA)
  • MSME Alliance
  • Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ)
  • The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce & Industry
  • The Negril Chamber of Commerce
  • The Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce
  • The May Pen Chamber of Commerce
  • Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF)
  • Jamaica Union of Travellers Association (JUTA)
  • Dunn’s River Craft Traders Market Association
  • Ocho Rios Craft Council
  • Jamaican Craft Traders & Producers Association