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Gov't open to talks with opposition on crime fighting solutions - Chang

By Kimone Witter 

National Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang has said the government would be open to discussions with the opposition on solutions to Jamaica's crime problem.

But while he indicated that "extra parliamentary talks could be of value", he suggested that there are already adequate avenues to facilitate discussions outside of a set forum.

Dr. Chang said action is what is required "to protect lives", adding that this is the responsiblity of the elected executives in a democratic society. 

The National Security Minister was responding to whether the government would be willing to have dialogue with the opposition following the failed attempt to get an extension of the latest states of emergency (SOEs) which ended at midnight Tuesday.

Dr. Chang continued to insist that the states of emergency, which have been imposed since 2018, have been effective in reducing the crime rate.

"You have to pursue a number of policies and a number of programmes and we set the policy and the police pursue and the other agencies of government pursue programmes for the long term solution. In the short term, the first and most important element is to make the community safe and stop people killing each other," he said, contending that "the one tool" that works effectively in this regard is the SOE. 

He argued that those groups which oppose the measure "do not care" about the lives of people who have been negatively affected by crime and violence.

Dr. Chang reiterated the government's position that if the security forces were to recommend the imposition of more states of emergency, this would be carefully considered.