Wed | May 27, 2020

Public defender wrong on SOE cessation - Gov't senator slams Harrison Henry

Published:Wednesday | May 2, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue and Brian Walker/ Gleaner Writers
Harrison Henry

Following a five-hour debate yesterday, the Senate approved a resolution to extend the state of public emergency (SOE) in St James for 90 days after a five-hour debate. The 16 senators who were present, like their colleagues in the Lower House on Tuesday, voted unanimously for the extension. Eight other senators were absent.

Government senators banked on data from the Jamaica Constabulary Force showing that between January 1 and April 30, there were 62 fewer murders in St James when compared to the same period last year.

During the debate on the resolution, Government Senator Charles Sinclair said that the recent appeal by Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry for the immediate cessation of the state of public emergency in the parish of St James was not her call, so she should stay in her lane.




Sinclair, who is a former mayor of Montego Bay, also took the chairman of the Peace Management Initiative to task for making a similar call. Sinclair argued that there was no greater human rights abuse than that of the taking of life.

"We speak of the breach of human rights [rather] than the loss of life. That is the primary human right ... . The persons that we hear making this call about ceasing the extension [of the state of emergency], I think that they were ... not properly focused and not aware of the situation.

"Instead of saying something that is not in your purview -to say cease the SOE immediately - deal with the human rights issues. If you think there is a conflict, take the matter elsewhere and get a proper declaration with respect to it, but don't take on something that I believe is not in your portfolio.

"So I think the public defender was wrong in her comments that she made in respect to the SOE, its continuation or extension," Charles told the Upper House. He claimed that 90 per cent of the residents of the parish supported the extension of the SOE.

The public defender had said that there were several cases of human-rights abuses as individuals were held and not charged but could not be released because detention orders that would facilitate their release were not signed. She, therefore, called for immediate cessation of the SOE.