The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) says it has taken note of a Supreme Court ruling that several provisions of the Emergency Powers Regulations breached the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.
According to the PNP, today’s (June 17) ruling by the Full Court of the Supreme Court in Roshaine Clarke v the Attorney General confirmed the Opposition’s long maintained stance that the way in which the Government has been using states of public emergency since 2018 has been a violation of the Constitution.
“The Opposition takes further note of the $17.8 million in damages awarded to the claimant, which speaks to the magnitude of the State’s potential liability where thousands of young people could become claimants in similar cases, at a cost that would be borne by the Jamaican taxpayers,” the PNP said in statement over the name of Donna Scott Mottley, the Opposition spokesperson on justice and information.
“We reiterate that there are already extensive and sufficient existing legislative tools available to law enforcement to get a grip of the crime situation in the country, but the national security situation is being mismanaged by the Government.
“The Government has a duty to allocate significant resources into the strengthening of the State’s response to bail applications and the preparation of prosecutions of serious criminal cases, in order to protect victims by making the criminal justice system an effective deterrent to wrongdoers and ensuring accountability.
“We invite the Government to have discussions with the Opposition to find a constitutional and effective pathway to addressing the scourge of crime and violence plaguing the country, given today’s guidance provided by the Constitutional Court.”
The Opposition noted that the Court found that the Emergency Powers Regulations “were declared unconstitutional as they gave the authorities unduly unfettered power to abrogate the fundamental rights of a wide class of persons in society without evidence establishing that they were reasonably justified for achieving the purposes of the state of emergency”.
The Supreme Court ruled that Clarke’s rights to liberty and free movement were violated by his arrest and subsequent months-long detention carried out under a state of emergency declaration in the parish of St James.
The court awarded the equivalent of around J$17.8 million in damages to Clarke, now 32, who was never charged or tried despite spending 263 days in prison.