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PJ: set up Crime commission - Former PM wants group to determine SOE extensions

Published:Sunday | January 20, 2019 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has proposed the establishment of a national security commission to help tackle the scourge of crime and violence across the country.

Currently, there exists a National Security Council chaired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness that focuses on crime and violence at a policy level.

Patterson, who was speaking at the Lay Magistrates' Association of Jamaica's Kingston chapter awards banquet on Saturday at Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston, suggested an even bigger role for his proposed commission.

The former head of government said that the time has come for the constitution of a single body, appropriately tailored by the "sartorial pattern of the EAC (Electoral Advisory Committee now Electoral Commission of Jamaica) model ...". This model, Patterson said, would eventually incorporate wide-ranging functions now spread across the Police Service Commission, the Office of Complaints Authority, INDECOM, and a myriad of related groups - consisting of three independent persons chosen for their expertise by the governor general after due consultations, with one person nominated by the prime minister and one by the leader of the Opposition.

Speaking specifically on the vexed issue of the states of emergency, Patterson noted that the Government had the right to declare a state of emergency in the first instance.

However, under Patterson's model, requests for extensions of states of emergency should not rest with the Government.

"The EAC practice could be applied to matters pertaining to their extension. Extensions would be first considered by such a group (commission) and their recommendation then approved by recourse to Parliament in accordance with the existing legislative requirements for extensions. This would allow for certainty, where required, and avoid the danger that a state of emergency was being extended or curtailed for partisan political reasons," he further argued.

The former political leader said it was his opinion that the creation and nurturing of a national security commission was the most constructive way to secure and build national consensus in order to fashion a common design and bridge the partisan divide.