JAMAICA-Prime Minister and opposition leader hold private meeting – agree to crime talks

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 Prime Minister Andrew Holness and leader of the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP), Dr. Peter Phillips have agreed to meet on Monday with stakeholders to discuss related to crime and security.

On Wednesday, both leaders held private talks at Vale Royal – the official residence of the Prime Minister, where they agreed that teams from the main political parties will meet on Monday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips

The private meeting was held after the PNP declined an invitation issued by Holness to meet over the State of Emergency (SOE), as Phillips, in a letter said the notice for the meeting was too short.

Both parties have been at odds concerning the SOE, following the stance taken by the opposition on December 11 to withdraw its support for the anti-crime measure.

According to a joint statement on Wednesday, the Prime Minister and opposition leader held “full, frank and confidential discussions on security and crime management in Jamaica”.

With the opposition’s vote, the SOE in the St Catherine North Police Division, ended on Wednesday, while the SOE in sections of the Corporate Area is to end on January 7 and in the western parish of St. James, it will end on January 31.

The Opposition, which had supported extensions of the anti-crime measure before, argued that detainees were being subjected to human rights abuses and that the SOE was no longer necessary, given the reduction in crimes, particularly murder.

During the SOEs, the security forces have the power to search, curtail operating hours of business, restrict access to places and detain persons without a warrant. It also gives them power to stop and question persons, seize property, and control public gatherings and movements.

The Constitution provides that a period of public emergency can be declared by proclamation, if the governor general is satisfied that action has been taken, or is immediately threatened, by any person or body of persons of such a nature and on so extensive a scale as to be likely to endanger public safety.

Meanwhile, in a statement late Wednesday,  Holness reassured the public that the Government’s Plan Secure Jamaica is in full effect. 

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