Wed | Aug 15, 2018

Protect the innocent under state of emergency, Phillips urges

Published:Wednesday | January 24, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Dr Peter Phillips (right), leader of the Opposition, Fitz Jackson (centre) and Julian Robinson addressing a press briefing at the People's National Party's St Andrew headquarters yesterday.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has called for a civilian oversight body to be put in place to address reports of human-rights abuses of individuals detained under the state of public emergency currently under way in St James.

Speaking at a press conference at the party's St Andrew headquarters yesterday, Phillips said the Opposition supports the anti-crime initiative, but the situation need not have escalated to this point, in the party's view, had the Government acted decisively earlier.

According to the opposition leader, who was a former minister of national security, human-rights issues must be addressed.

"There needs to be some institutional strengthening surrounding the state of emergency and, in particular, we renew our call for an important civilian oversight mechanism to be put in place to allow families and persons generally to be assured that their rights will be respected," Phillips said.

He said the body should guarantee that the rights of those detained are respected, and will not be trampled on.

"We have received reports, and we have heard from the Cornwall Bar Association, for example, that some of the detainees are not being granted legal representation and that the conditions leave something to be desired. Even as we do our utmost as a country to confront the scourge of criminality, we must remember always that the rights of the innocent need to be protected," Phillips said.

He reiterated the Opposition's call for the Government to present an anti-crime plan.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com