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Longmore-Dropinski urges child protection ahead of National Children’s Day

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Government Senator Dr Saphire Longmore-Dropinski has added her voice to those of her parliamentary colleagues who have, since the beginning of the month, been urging citizens to do more to protect children from sexual predators.

May is observed as Child Month, and Friday, May 17 will be observed as National Children’s Day.

During her address in the Senate on Friday Longmore-Dropinski cited recent incidents in which childen were killed, and emphasised the need for parents and guardians to protect the nation’s youth.

Referencing statistics from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), she pointed out that, on average, 10 out of every 1,000 children are subjected to child abuse or maltreatment; 79 per cent of children witness violence in their communities or home; and 68 out of every 100,000 children are victims of a violent crime.

The senator added that since the start of the year 14 children have been murdered, 83 have been raped, 49 have been victims of grievous sexual assault, and one has committed suicide.

She implored those who have information about the predators who target children to call Crime Stop or contact the police.

“It is safe and it is secure [to contact the relevant authorities]. Make an effort to save our children,” she urged.

Dr Longmore-Dropinski reiterated that during May 2019, the National Child Month Committee will be focusing on children with disabilities, under the theme ‘Encourage, Enable, Include Me’.

In tandem with that, she noted that child safety is the focus of activities the Government is organising to commemorate Labour Day on Thursday, May 23, and called for the protection of children on our roads.

“Statistics assert that over 120 children have died on our roads over the past five years, and another significant number suffer from life-changing injuries as a result of over 70,000 traffic accidents in our country within metres of school zones in the past 10 years. So the National Labour Day Programme is seeking to mobilise every Jamaican to spend at least a part of the day targeting road safety for our children,” the senator said.

She noted that some activities for Labour Day will include the provision of signage and the installation of crosswalks, rumble strips, and bus lanes near schools.

The colour associated with National Children’s Day is sunshine yellow.

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Let the public be the judge

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Let the public be the judge

Phillips mum on Integrity Commission’s failure to release Andrew Holness’ statutory declaration

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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OPPOSITION Leader Dr Peter Phillips says he is leaving it to members of the public to form their opinions on the failure of the Integrity Commission to publish a summary of the statutory declaration of Prime Minister Andrew Holness for last year.

Under the law the commission is to publish in the Jamaica Gazette the summary of the statutory declarations of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition annually.

Government officials have claimed that the commission sought clarity on an aspect of the declaration provided by Holness and this has already been provided.

But up to late yesterday there was no indication that the commission had published the information.

The commission, on July 12, published information that showed Phillips and his family with total income of $53.8 million, assets of $60.4 million, plus US$61.5 thousand in saving accounts, US$502,000 in securities and US$19.7 thousand in life insurance cash value.

Following a media briefing where he provided further details on a crime summit being planned by the Opposition for July 30, Phillips told the Jamaica Observer that he would not want to get into any extensive discussion on why the Integrity Commission has so far failed to gazette the declaration of the prime minister.

“The expression of concern should be that expressed by the Integrity Commission rather than myself because then it would descend into a matter of political point scoring,” said Phillips.

“The law provides that the Integrity Commission is the watchdog, the protector of the country’s national institutions — our parliament, our civil service, security forces, and the like. It should be the one that discharges that responsibility in a non-partisan fashion which enables it to secure the widest possible support among the general public,” added Phillips.

Earlier Phillips told members of the media that the Opposition was disappointed with the failure of the Holness Administration to convene a meeting with stakeholders to discuss Jamaica’s high murder rate and criminality, as agreed in the Vale Royal Talks some seven months ago.

“Given the fact that Jamaica has had seven states of emergency and a continuing high murder rate, we can wait no longer to convene a meeting of stakeholders as envisaged by the Vale Royal Agreement,” said Phillips.

“We consider it vital to convene the national stakeholders meeting now to agree on a national position so that all stakeholders can embrace the decisions and support their implementation,” added Phillips.

According to Phillips, the crime meeting will be a national effort, non-partisan in tone and content, and one that delivers tangible results.

“We are not about scoring political points,” declared Phillips.

He said the meeting will be convened under the theme, ‘Securing a safer Jamaica’, at the Jamaica Conference Centre and will assemble key stakeholders including the church, the private sector, and academics.

“I should point out that I have extended invitations to the minister of justice (Delroy Chuck), the attorney general (Marlene Malahoo-Forte), the minister of national security (Horace Chang), the Jamaica Labour Party, and we do hope that they will join us in this non-partisan effort to fight crime,” said Phillips.

“The meeting’s objective is to highlight causative factors and identify possible solutions which may include a set of sustainable, actionable, and results-orientated measures which could ultimately bring the dire crime situation under control,” he added.

The Opposition leader said a report of the consultations, with recommendations, will be presented to the Government, “which we hope will be accepted and implemented”.

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South African leader slams ‘flawed’ graft report

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PRETORIA, South Africa (AFP) — South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday slammed as “fundamentally and irretrievably flawed” findings by a watchdog concerning a donation to his 2017 campaign to head the ruling party.

“After careful study I have concluded that the report is fundamentally and irretrievably flawed,” Ramaphosa told reporters, adding that he has “decided to seek an urgent judicial review” of the findings concerning a controversial 500,000 rand (US$36,000) donation.

The country’s ombudswoman, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, said in an explosive report last Friday that Ramaphosa “deliberately misled the National Assembly” when he responded to an opposition question in Parliament last November.

Ramaphosa initially told lawmakers that the payment was to his son Andile for consultancy work for Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations (AGO).

But he later said it was a donation towards his campaign to become African National Congress party leader — a hard-fought battle in which he beat ex-president Jacob Zuma’s chosen candidate.

He apologised saying he had been misinformed when he first answered the question.

Despite the correction, Mkhwebane said Ramaphosa “indeed misled parliament” and that he should not have rushed to answer the question without having all the facts in hand.

Ramaphosa said the allegations against him by the public protector — or ombudswoman — “are serious… and should not be taken lightly”.

But the report “contains numerous factual inaccuracies of a material nature”, he said.

“The findings are wrong in law, are irrational and, in some instances, exceed the scope of the powers of the public protector,” he said.

“Given these deficiencies… it is appropriate that the courts make a final and impartial determination on this matter.”

Ramaphosa, who is just two months into a new term since the May elections, said he wanted “an expedited review process so that we do not keep the country in limbo about these matters”.

He stressed that the decision to turn to the courts should not be seen as judging the competence of the ombudswoman or her motives, “but is motivated instead by a determination that the law should be applied correctly and consistently”.

Critics of the ombudswoman accuse her of dabbling in ANC factional battles.

But Ramaphosa said he would not be distracted.

“I want to continue doing the work that I was elected for, and indeed this matter should never be a distraction,” he said.

Analysts suggest that damning allegations could boost Ramaphosa’s opponents within the ANC, which is riven by infighting.

Ramaphosa replaced the graft-tainted Zuma on promises to fight corruption.

But the party of Nelson Mandela is now bitterly split between Zuma supporters and those backing Ramaphosa, who took the helm after Zuma became entangled in a series of corruption scandals.

The former president faces an inquiry into corruption during his nine-year rule.

On Friday Zuma withdrew from testifying in the inquiry, complaining of bias, but agreed to return at a future date.

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PHOTO: An Evening of Excellence

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PHOTO: An Evening of Excellence

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Children perform a drama piece Wolfee Tribulation (Photo: Everard Owen)


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