Senator slams lack of urgency debating Anti-Gang BillSaturday, June 19, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Rookie Government Senator Natalie Campbell Rodriquez yesterday slammed fellow senators for ignoring more serious issues such as crime, for comparing dubplate lyrics.
“I will wager 10 goats, that Jamaica would be better off, if we spent less time posturing and more time doing the work that we were sent here to do,” the frank senator said.
She urged Senators to reflect on the amendments to the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) (Amendment) Act, 2021 before it, instead of dubplate lyrics raised by Opposition Senator Damion Crawford in condemning Prime Minister Andrew Holness' recent criticism of violence lyrics.
“I am an informer, and I love my country to the core of my being and, as such, I have no problem being pegged as an informer, if it will help Jamaica to be her best self,” she said.
“I belong to a political party that I hope will never sanction a member, and take them to any disciplinary committee to prevent them from being an informer, because we must be careful. We must be careful that we do not remain silent and try to protect the children in Jamaica,” she said in what appeared to be a veiled comment on the sexual misconduct allegations currently floating around the Opposition People's National Party (PNP). Secretariat
“I stand with any informer who informs about the abuse of our children,” said Campbell Rodriquez, who was also responsible for bringing to the Senate the Joint Women of the Lower House Statement condemning gender-based violence, which was rejected by Opposition Senators as not going far enough.
The statement sought a bipartisan approach by female parliamentarians to the accusations being made against Central Westmoreland MP George Wright, but failed after the Opposition backed off complaining that it did not go far enough.
Senator Campbell Rodriquez reminded the Senate, however, that Friday's focus should have been on the amendments to the Bill which were based on a report from a Joint Select Committee's (JSC) on failure of the security forces to undermine criminal organizations, by criminalizing their participation and promotion of the activities they carry out.
“That is where we need to focus. Why is that needed? It is because of organized criminal groups in Jamaica…We have a problem. It is a threat to our nation. Outside of COVID-19, what else is a bigger threat,” She asked.
“I have sat and I have listened and, I stand to be corrected but, Jamaica and Jamaicans would be happier if today, on our side, we could spend less time defending (ourselves) and, on the other side, if you could stop posturing and pretending as though one is better than the other,” she said.
She said that the Senate should have been focusing on making the amendments more User Friendly and acknowledging, urgently, that the current Act has not been useful enough.
“Our politics is based on the winner takes all system. It facilitates a lot of confrontation and it facilitates the need for us to score points for every chance we get. That is the system we have, but what I say today, and what I urge is that we learn the art in this House that it is important to put aside what needs to ponder and to focus on what needs to be done,” she said.
On the Dub Plates issue which was raised by Senator Crawford, she urged that Senators and MPs should have a greater responsibility, than spending the time focusing “on one out of a million things the Prime Minister might have said”.
“Is the real issue the choice of music for an election campaign, or is it the lyrics that were read earlier that can influence the mind, values and actions? That is where we must focus,” she urged her colleagues.
The Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) (Amendment) Act, 2021 was passed without any further amendments at the end of the debate.
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