Heat on Wright

MONTEGO BAY, St James — The ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) says it has told Member of Parliament for Westmoreland Central George Wright to “immediately make himself available to the police” who yesterday named him as a person of interest in their probe of a violent assault of a woman captured on video and which has gone viral.

At the same time, the Opposition People’s National Party has called on Wright to resign, saying that the example he has set is “inconsistent with him holding this high office and flies in the face of the national outcry against violence against women that is now pervasive”.

A release from the JLP yesterday said General Secretary Dr Horace Chang issued the directive to Wright on the instruction of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, the JLP leader.

According to the release, Dr Chang said even as the party pays close attention to developments concerning the matter, it is treating the issue very seriously.

Chang also said if there’s confirmation that Wright conducted himself, as is being alleged, “the consequences will be swift” as “ there’s no place in the JLP for any individual who abuses or attacks anyone, in particular women”.

The video shows a man repeatedly punching the woman after which he used what looked like a stool to clobber her over and over.

Late yesterday afternoon, a senior investigator told the Jamaica Observer that “the police have interest in talking to” Wright.

Earlier yesterday, Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifford Chambers, commander of the Area One Police Division, had served notice that a Westmoreland businessman would be named as a person of interest in their probe of the incident, which drew the ire of Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange.

According to ACP Chambers, the incident unfolded on the Chester Castle main road in Hanover about 2:30 pm on Tuesday, April 6, after which the woman lodged a complaint at Anchovy Police Station in St James.

On the same day, Wright also reported to Ramble Police Station in Hanover that he was assaulted by the woman.

“On that date, a lady went to the Anchovy Police Station and reported that she was assaulted. The police took the necessary action and as a result of the action taken, she was given certain directions what to do, based on the injuries that she purportedly received in the incident and was advised to return to give a formal report in the matter,” ACP Chambers explained.

“We subsequently learnt that another report was made by a male to the Ramble Police Station, and based on the timing and the location we can confirm that it came out of the same incident. Now, this is a male who complained to the police that he was assaulted. This assault resulted in him suffering injuries. Again, the complaint was appreciated by the police and he was, like the female, advised what to do and return to the police,” Chambers said.

The senior cop, meanwhile, appealed to individuals making reports to the police to follow through in order for the investigation to be completed.

“We just want to implore persons who make formal complains to the police to follow through on the investigation because the investigation has started in this matter. There is a process, and the process can only be completed if the persons who make the complaint follow through with regards to the initial complaint. So, we just want to implore persons generally, and in this case, those who are involved, to reach out back to the police because the police are seeking to conclude the investigation,” Chambers implored.

It was not clear whether Wright reported to the police yesterday. Calls to his cellular phone went straight to voicemail.

Grange said she was “deeply disturbed” by the video and the allegation that a Member of Parliament was involved.

The gender minister said she had discussed the video with Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang, who asked the police to investigate the matter.

“The Government is firmly against acts of violence. This video is deeply disturbing and completely unacceptable. We cannot condone any act of gender-based or family violence; we cannot turn a blind eye,” Grange said.

“We will continue with our anti-gender-based violence campaign as we have to develop a mindset and practice in Jamaica that there is no excuse for abuse,” she said.

Senator Donna Scott-Mottley, the Opposition spokeswoman on justice and gender affairs, said the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) should bring all resources at its disposal to immediately investigate the matter and proceed without fear or favour to ensure that the law takes its course and justice is served.

“Over the last few months, we have experienced an increase in violence against women, and numerous accounts of missing women. This incident provides the JCF with an opportunity to demonstrate how seriously they take this issue, and that they are prioritising the safety of our Jamaican women,” Scott Mottley said.

“Political leaders,” she said, “have an important role to play in stamping out the scourge of violence which has been plaguing our nation, and must therefore be beyond reproach. As the people’s representatives, we must be examples of the ideal, commit to gender equality at all levels of our society, and place emphasis on peaceful conflict resolution skills training.”

She said the Opposition, as a partner in the project to end violence against women, “eagerly awaits information from the authorities regarding their progress with this case, and urges the Government to also use this incident to substantiate its intolerance of violence against our women”.

Wright, the Jamaica Labour Party candidate in last September’s general election, defeated the People’s National Party’s Dwayne Vaz to take the Westmoreland Central seat.

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