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Political Ombudsman urges Jamaicans to maintain peace during election period

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Political Ombudsman, Bishop Herro Blair is urging Jamaicans to resist inciting or committing any acts of violence during the upcoming general elections, which is scheduled for August 27.

“In communities that are plagued or are affected by political violence, residents must understand that when this is all over the loss will be theirs. The loss is not for the party or the candidate, it’s for the persons within that community,” Bishop Blair said during an interview with JIS News.

“Therefore my request is that you do not support violence, do not support the criminal elements, and do not support the gangsters. Wherever you see any action that is a breach of the code and breach of the laws of this country report it to the police and this will help not only the national politics but also the community politics,” he added.

Notwithstanding this caution, the Political Ombudsman however noted that Jamaica has come a long way in its politics. “It appears as if there is a level of tolerance that is being developed (amongst the people),” he stated.

The Office of the Political Ombudsman was established in 2002 and has the responsibility of investigating issues in the political arena.

“Whenever there are problems brewing between the political parties and there are complaints to my office I am obligated by law to investigate those complaints,” Bishop Blair explained.

He however stated that, “if I think that the matters before me are frivolous I may not investigate. If they are of a serious nature I must investigate, and I can appoint a tribunal comprised of representatives of political parties to assist me in the investigation process.”

Bishop Herro Blair

He explained that complaints to his office may be made by any person or a body of persons whether incorporated or not, or who claim to be affected by any such action by members of a political party.

“I have over the years done thorough investigations and made rulings. I am not the type of persons to go public on what I am doing, or what I have done because in many cases I don’t see the necessity,” Bishop Blair said.
He said that “because I have gained the respect and corporation from both political parties and the leaders, I have been able to call in either the direct leadership of the parties or members of the executive they have chosen to sit on a committee named in my office.”

“We go through the complaints, we discuss them and I try the matter before the leaders, come up with a decision and then they go away with the decision. So far so good, the decisions have been accepted by the persons concerned,” the Political Ombudsman added.

He informed that as of Nominations Day, which is slated for August 7, he will be going public with his decisions regarding any complaint made to his office.

“From Nomination Day through to Elections Day I will go publicly with any ruling that I am making. I will state why I have come to such a decision and I will not write leaders and say I want this apology, but I will ask for public apologies,” the Political Ombudsman said.

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