Wednesday 23 October, 2019

Holness calls on Diaspora to help curtail crime

Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaking at the  opening of the 8th Jamaica Diaspora Conference.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaking at the opening of the 8th Jamaica Diaspora Conference.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has urged members of the Jamaican Diaspora to get involved in changing two aspects of the culture, which he believes will help put a dent in criminal activities on the island.

Speaking at the launch of the 8th Jamaica Diaspora Conference at the Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston Sunday evening, Holness encouraged the Jamaicans living overseas to be a part of changing the island’s culture of violence.

“Over the last three decades, Jamaica has seen an almost geometric rise in homicides, but that is just half of the story. The full story is that in the last three decades or so, we have seen an unabated rise, even acceptance of violence in our society,” Holness said. 

“We have to look at ourselves and address this uncomfortable subject and it will require members of the diaspora to help with this conversation about violence in our society because there are some deep-seated, long-held cultural issues, which are used from time to time to justify violence.

“Many of you who are now found your home in other societies, would have gone through experiences that would have shown, that many of the things that we hold on to here in Jamaica are not necessary anymore,” he added.

Members of the audience at the opening ceremony of the Diaspora conference listen intently to PM Holness' presentation. 

According to Holness many Jamaicans in the diaspora as well on the island, still, hold the view that corporal punishment was instrumental in their development and are reluctant to support anything else.

He, however, questioned the culture against the background that new information suggests that corporal punishment have a generally negative impact on psychology, outlook and emotional development, but also leaves a violent imprint on the child.

He argued that this is passed down generationally, which should be stopped by finding other ways of punishing children.

Holness told the ballroom of the hotel, which had the president of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo, former Prime Minister of Jamaica PJ Patterson, ministers of government and diplomats, to make the calls back to the island worthwhile, by asking pertinent questions of family members.

Jamaica Diaspora Conference opening

“So when you call home to answer questions about how is the remittance is spent, you might very well want to start a conversation, how are you disciplining young Joey? And that is a very powerful use of the diaspora in helping to carry along that conversation about how we change our society,” Holness said. 

Corporal punishment has got mixed reactions from Jamaicans at home and abroad, with many insisting that it does more harm than good.

Holness also encouraged the diaspora to use the call to Jamaica to influence family members and friends to give information to the police, as the force struggles to get information about crime as a result of the culture of ‘informer fi dead’.

“We can’t keep doing the cycle of violence and expecting to see a reduction in our homicide rates. There has to be a genuine confrontation about supporting law enforcement, providing information to law enforcement and allowing law enforcement to do their work and supporting them in their work,” the prime minister said. 
Holness said he became aware of the influence of the diaspora while campaigning in the last general election, with one particular woman telling him she is going to vote for him because her son overseas told her to.

“Members of the diaspora know what I am talking about. You are a very powerful influence on your household back home. Use that influence to help Jamaica overcome the epidemic of violence and crime that is holding back our society. We have a closing window and we have to be moving very quickly to resolve these issues,” Holness said.

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