First Look

NIA calls on the PNP to reverse debate decision

National Integrity Action Limited | 2016-02-11 00:00:00

National Integrity Action, in upholding its principles of transparency and accountability, regards the decision of the Peoples’ National Party not to participate in any debates with the Jamaica Labour Party as a backwards step for Jamaica’s democracy, notwithstanding the reasons offered. It should be recalled that:

• Pre-election National Debates in 2007 and 2011 served the Jamaica people well in allowing them a better understanding of the issues;
• “The right to seek [and]receive … information…through any media” is enshrined in Jamaica’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms;
• The Access to Information Act identifies “transparency” as one of the “fundamental principles underlying the system of Constitutional Democracy”;
• Successive Prime Ministers, including Prime Minister Simpson-Miller have pledged “greater openness in government” (Inaugural Address, January 6, 2012).

The decision not to participate in any debates with the Jamaica Labour Party runs in the opposite direction from both best practice and good democracy.

The concerns raised by the Peoples’ National Party regarding statements and utterances by the Leader of the Opposition are real and must be dealt with in the appropriate forum, namely, by reports to the Office of the Political Ombudsman and by action through the Courts of Law. These concerns should not be used as a reason to deprive the Jamaican people of the opportunity to hear question and answers regarding plans to “Step Up the Progress” and concerning “The Path from Poverty to Prosperity”. The NIA therefore calls on the People’s National Party to reconsider its decision in the national interest and on the Debate Commission to do all in its power to ensure that the debate does take place and that Jamaica does not retrogress on this important aspect of its electoral democracy.

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