News from the OPM

Reading of the Proclamation at King’s House

Reading of the Proclamation at King’s House



The Most Honourable Andrew Holness ON, PC, MP

Prime Minister of Jamaica

At the

Reading of the Proclamation at King’s House


June 21, 2023



Thank you, Dr McCarthy for your excellent mastery of the ceremony. You’re quick on your feet.

Your Excellencies, The Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen

Honourable Minister Senator Gabriela Morrison, representing the Leader of the Opposition



Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.


My presence here at the podium was not planned. I imposed myself on the ceremony and His Excellency was very kind to accommodate me, but I thought it’s important that the full force of the government be seen to be in support of this initiative. In Cabinet on Monday, we dedicated an extensive block of time discussing this issue and how, not just as politicians, but as leaders of the society, how we will mobilize the entire society to supporting this initiative so I’m very happy to see here a wide cross-section of civic leaders. I see the president of the JTA, good morning, how are you? And other influential leaders present. So, let me say officially that I endorse the proclamation of a National Day of Mourning for children who have been the victims of violence and emotional abuse. We endorse it fully.

I want to thank the custodes and other civic leaders who have spearheaded this initiative and I encourage you to keep being proactive in this regard. The process of mourning is not a meaningless or passive act. His Excellency pointed out that it is part of a process of healing and His Excellency in his former life would have pastored this message on many occasions.

Mourning is an important outward expression of grief and when it is done in the way in which we are doing it, which is establishing a formal process by which the entire society can collectively express its grief in not just symbolic, but in meaningful ways. Even the turning on of your headlight wearing black; they may seem to be on the surface of it frivolous, but when taken together, it is a very powerful outward demonstration of how the society feels, how we are grieving, and I’m sure that all Jamaicans are grieving and all Jamaicans are upset about what has happened when we just try to imagine the last moments of young Danielle or the five persons who were brutally murdered last year, almost around this time in Clarendon.

And we all reflect, and we wonder what is happening to our society, where is the human kindness and we can feel lost upon wondering about this grief. We can lose hope to feel that the situation will only get worse, and we can internalize that and reinforce a negative narrative and a negative perception but when we come together in a collective process of mourning, not just to reflect and pay respect on the lives lost, but to reaffirm our commitment to ensure that this grief that we are feeling, we are going to convert this into energy and commitment and action to ensure that our young and most vulnerable are protected and that is what this proclamation is about. It is not merely words on a document. It is intended to mobilize the collective hurt of the nation into positive action for change.

So, while the government will respond as we must respond with policy and laws, and we are in the process of finalizing new legislation, which will include increasing the penalties for murders and associated crimes, for amendments to the Domestic Violence Act, for the Offenses Against the Person Act, and other pieces of legislation, those will come to the fore, the society will debate them but it is important that in the collective expression of our mourning, we indicate that what has happened not just to young Danielle, that it is an assault on our collective sensibilities. It is a blot on the collective moral fabric of the nation, and that we are not going to remain silent lest it gives the impression that the country has fallen numb, lest it gives the impression that that moral line in the sand, which should not be crossed, that that line is now blurred or totally erased.

We must send the collective message to the lawmakers that the laws must reflect our social conscience on this issue, that we must draw the line and send a strong signal that these acts must have laws that are strong deterrent and if the perpetrators were not deterred, then the penalties must be as severe as the act that they have committed, and that is the purpose of this period of mourning.

It is to mobilize the entire society to defend that moral line in the sand, to send a signal to those who have lost their moral compass, that the society will not tolerate. But it is also a time where we must reflect and we must acknowledge that there are many Jamaicans who are being severely affected in their mental health and stability, and that there are many Jamaicans who are being drawn into depressive states and that they don’t know how to deal with it. They don’t know how to treat with it, and they are at times overwhelmed and may even be overcome and we see that in many crimes of passion being executed in our society. So, as we mourn, we are also saying that we must increase our capabilities to address the fundamental social issues that are affecting human behaviour.

So, Excellency, thank you for your accommodation. Ladies and gentlemen may this proclamation be meaningful and may it start the remarking and defence of the moral line of our society.