Opposition Leader Mark Golding has re-emphasised that there is no reason for the Government to suspend the basic human rights of half the Jamaican population where states of emergency have been declared to deal with approximately 300 alleged violence producers.
Speaking to reporters after the People’s National Party’s (PNP) National Executive Council meeting at Spanish Town Primary School on Sunday, Golding said that a legal procedure can be developed and enacted quickly whereby law enforcement can apply to the Supreme Court for an ex parte order (without notice to the other side) providing supporting affidavit of credible intelligence that justifies immediate detention of presumed high-risk criminals.
He said that a pre-charge detention order could be sought to protect the public against a credible risk of serious violence.
“I am of the view that pre-charge detention is warranted in Jamaica’s present context in relation to known violence producers who have been identified by credible intelligence as posing a realistic danger of imposing serious violence on one or more individuals or the community,” Golding said in outlining the plan, which he reported had been discussed with his shadow Cabinet as well as the Police High Command in the past.
Golding said the ex parte order, once granted, will allow seven days’ initial detention along with provision for a further 14-day extension and up to 42 days. At each interval, law-enforcement agencies would need to satisfy the court that progress was being made in building a case that supported criminal charges.
According to the opposition leader and PNP president, the procedure should be limited in time so that after 49 days from the initial detention, criminal charges must be laid or the person must be released.
Golding said the affidavit evidence supporting the detention will not be publicly accessible in a court file but would be made available in redacted form to the detainees’ defence counsel.
He said the detainee would have the right during the period to apply inter parte (giving notice to law enforcement) for release if the person can satisfy the court that the detention is unwarranted and that he does not pose a credible threat of violence.
Golding advocated that a specific case-management judge be assigned to this process.
“In my view, this is a proportionate response to protect Jamaica’s free and democratic society from the chronic and worsening problem of serious crimes and murders,” the opposition leader said.
He accused government lawmakers of disrespecting and showing open aggression to the Opposition for standing up for the rights of the Jamaican people and upholding the Constitution by blocking the extension of the SOEs.
Golding said that despite that approach, the Opposition stood ready to work with the Government on crafting solutions to crime.
Meanwhile, Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Senator Peter Bunting, lashed out at the Government and some members of the private sector he claimed were spreading false narratives that there had been a significant decline in murders in the parishes where SOEs have been imposed.
“Last year when the state of emergency was declared, murders went up,” he said.
“What is interesting is that in the past two weeks, murders have also gone down in the parishes where there are no SOEs,” said Bunting, while supporting colleague Senator Damion Crawford who attributed the decline to the fixation on the World Cup.
Crawford stated in last Friday’s sitting of the Senate that statistics showed in the past that serious crimes usually decline significantly during the football tournament.