Phillips: Retract alarmist statement! - Phillips wants PM to withdraw comment about unleashing dangerous criminals
Leader of the Opposition, Dr Peter Phillips, has repudiated reports in the media that Prime Minister Andrew Holness had said that "twenty dangerous criminals" will be unleashed in St James at the end of the state of emergency on January 31, 2019.
Phillips said that there are adequate laws on the books to deal with dangerous criminals who have either committed, or are about to commit, criminal offences.
He said the prime minister should seek legal guidance rather than state that criminal elements will be unleashed, suggesting that the clear intent was fearmongering among citizens.
According to the opposition leader, all detainees under the state of emergency should have been held on "reasonable cause", and the country expects that during the SOE, "reasonable cause" should have been converted into evidence, so charges could be brought.
Phillips wants the prime minister to explain what is causing the delay in bringing charges against these dangerous criminals, particularly "when he can speak so specifically about past and future criminal activities of these '20 criminals' and the existence of witnesses".
In a statement yesterday, responding to a newspaper interview by the prime minister, Phillips said Holness' comments were "alarmist, highly irresponsible and smack of petulance" because the Opposition responsibly exercised its constitutional duty to ensure that all actions of the Government conform to the rule of law.
He said the Opposition has always been and will remain firmly committed to the fight against criminals, but in that pursuit, the innocent must be protected.
There has been extensive national debate on the SOEs in the wake of the Opposition's decision on Tuesday in Parliament to vote against further extensions of states of emergency in St James, St Catherine North and sections of the Corporate Area.
The Opposition has come under fire from some stakeholders for its decision.
Phillips questioned how long the prime minister has been in possession of the information he released and also asked if members of the joint forces are in possession of it to allow for appropriate action.
He called on the prime minister to urgently allow the security forces and prosecutors to act on the information he has and retract his alarmist statement.