Jamaica’s opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips Photo:www.jamaicaobserver.com

(BROOKLYN, New York): 19 has reportedly turned down a request from Prime Minister Andrew Holness for a meeting on the crime situation in Jamaica, but left open the possibility of the talks taking place at a later date.

Holness had written Phillips on December 31 last year, proposing the meeting adding that his administration views the “current crime situation as an existential threat to the security of the country and a national emergency of exceptional public importance.” But Phillips said that the date for the meeting was inappropriate at this time and that the earliest a People’s National Party (PNP) team could be assembled to meet would be January 7.

He suggested that a preparatory group led by PNP general secretary Julian Robinson meet immediately to settle arrangements to include the date, time, list of invitees, and the agenda for discussion, among other relevant matters. In his letter, Prime Minister Holness had said that while the security measures put in place so far have resulted in a 22 per cent decline in murders and a 22.3 per cent reduction in shooting incidents “the national murder rate remains high at approximately 46 per hundred thousand which is three times the regional average” bearing in mind that the Latin America and Caribbean region has the highest homicide rate in the world.

The letter from Holness followed a war of words in the public domain between the Office of the Prime Minister and the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) over the crime situation.

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