October 29, 2021 | Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie |
Parliament came alive last Tuesday when there was a debate on an amendment to the Emergency Powers Bill. Justice Minister MP Delroy Chuck open the debate. Then Opposition Leader made his contribution. In a nutshell he blasted the government for turning it’s back on the role of the judiciary. When he was finished, PM Andrew Michael Holness, was not amused.
To thunderous applause a strident PM Andrew Michael Holness uttered a blistering rebuke of the posture of the Opposition as he made his contribution to the debate on the Emergency Powers Bill. In particular the points raised by Opposition Leader MP Hon. Mark Golding, People’s National Party (PNP) President.
The PM had arisen in the Parliament in support of an amendment to the Emergency Powers Bill, as stated above, which was being debated in the House. Justice Minister & MP Delroy Chuck who piloted the proposed amendment, had blasted Mark Golding for stating that the government was disregarding the court’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of the detentions under the much used State Of Emergencies in 2019 as a suite of instruments used in their fight against crime in our society.
Mark Golding Was Wrong
The Justice Minister rightly pointed out that the court did not rule on the constitutionality of the detentions that legally supported the SOEs. Did Mark Golding, for his own reasons chose in fact to mislead parliament? Was this genuine ignorance on his part? Mark Golding is a seasoned lawyer.
The proposed amendment is intended to strengthen this piece of legislation so when applied will not conflict with neither the Charter of Rights nor the Constitution of Jamaica.
PM Holness said inter alia:
“My government does not have to wait on the. courts to tell us that the rights of the citizens need to be protected. Victims count, victims count to thunderous applause. Justice must be delivered with speed and alacrity”
So concluded the PM who appeared to be in a no nonsense mood. He was well supported by his parliamentary colleagues.
When the dust was settled the amendment was approved and now goes to the Senate to be debated and hopefully approved. Then on to be put in place, as a part of a much needed crime fighting tool.
The role being played by the Opposition as it relates to the reduction of crime leaves much to be desired. Be reminded that there are no two Jamaica. When crime drops to an acceptable level, it allows other funds to be freed up for community and national development. Schools need to be built, hospitals need drugs, and roads are in urgent need of repairs to name a few.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is a poet, elegist, author and senior international journalist who writes for Vision newspaper.