Clinton Pickering – Freelance Writer
The imposition of States of Emergency is not seen by the powerful Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) as good enough to battle the scourge of crime. PSOJ President Howard Mitchell, is demanding a crime plan.
He made this declaration, “Today, in the parish of St James that has suffered so much from crime and from violence, I am using this forum as a platform to again call on our government and our opposition party to sit down together with civil society to discuss the root cause of our crime, the link of our crime with corruption, the broad based long term solutions that are necessary to reduce the murder rate, the violence and undisciplined behaviour and to devise national methodologies and approaches to meet those challenges and put us on a path of mature development.”
Mr. Mitchell was addressing a PSOJ President’s Forum at Jewel Grande in Montego Bay on Wednesday, June 27, 2019, in which he placed the country’s crime problem in the context of a national disaster.
Dissatisfied with the responses to crime over the past 20 years, the outspoken private sector leader said, “I don’t care what they call it; a crime summit, Vale Royal talk, a violence commission, I really don’t care but for God’s sake, let us address these issues together as mature members of a society and focus on our mutual progress and prosperity.”
The theme for the forum was focused on disaster management and mitigation and Mr Mitchell was disappointed at the poor turnout of Montegonians in spite of over 90 confirming their attendance. In addressing an approach to threats to the nation’s social fabric and progress, he stretched the definition of disaster to include crime among the list of manmade destructive events.”
He argued that every society in history has stood on the three pillars: a strong state, efficiently and well-managed, not indulged in corruption and restricted to the provision of the essential services; having a private sector that is energetic, competent, innovative, independent and educated to meet the requirement of policies developed by the state and, a national community that is confident, cooperative and focused on policies developed by the state in conjunction with the community.
His take on the crime dilemma is that, “We as civil society have stood by and done very little as standards fail, as the sidewalks become crowded with illegal vendors, the streets are overcome with robot taxis and itinerant hustlers and our produce markets, where the genuine community hub where the community’s rural and urban meet, have become staging areas for drug dealing and vectors for contagious illnesses.”
Mr. Mitchell said it was clear to him that “government by itself cannot deal with the disaster of crime effectively (and) without active support of civil society, measures taken by the state will not only not have long term viability will have the potential for distortion of the intended effect and the creation of a hardcore criminal gang society.”
He said this was why the PSOJ and others continued to call for inclusive dialogue among both major political parties and civil society. “We assert that without active participation and consensus from the three pillars of our society, the imbalance that result will continue to cause failure in our society,” declared Mr Mitchell. He added that the organization did not want to know the details of a crime plan or to make one itself, “but we want to know that one exists.” Further, “We are not asking to be involved in operational decision-making but we in the private sector; that is the market, want to align our efforts to reduce the economic marginalization of the society along with the effort of the security forces,” he said.