Thu | May 28, 2020

Defence lawyers demand curfew exemption

Published:Thursday | April 2, 2020 | 12:20 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Defence attorneys in western Jamaica have expressed disappointment at not being exempted from the nightly COVID-19 curfew order declared by Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Tuesday.

The curfews, which commenced last night and which will run until April 8, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., made exemptions from a wide list of essential services, including parliamentarians, the judiciary, and telecom and energy-sector staff.

“The lawyers, in general, are most upset, concerned, and disappointed at the omission, and it has caused great consternation,” Lambert Johnson, president of the Cornwall Bar Association.

“I was taken aback that while members of the judiciary and attorneys employed by the Government are exempted, defence attorneys are not exempted, and I know for a fact that no court can operate without the presence of defence attorneys,” he said in an interview with The Gleaner.

Johnson argued that while attorneys employed by the Government are exempted, the barring of members of the private Bar could impede “the wheels of justice”.

“It is not unusual for our services to be required by persons at night, and we would not wish for the rights of persons to be abrogated because attorneys are absent,” said Johnson.

The Cornwall Bar president is, therefore, calling on the Government to correct what he believes is “an honest mistake”.

“Now that it has been brought to their attention, they will remedy that defect with alacrity, so at the next sitting of Parliament, I am sure this omission will be remedied,” he said.