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Constitutional expert says Senate should reject proposal to give security minister power to waive citizens' rights

Published:Tuesday | December 8, 2015 | 9:57 AM
Dr Lloyd Barnett

Renowned constitutional expert, Dr Lloyd Barnett, says the Jamaican senate should reject any bill seeking to give a politician any power to waive the rights of Jamaican citizens. 

He was reacting to proposed amendments to the Maritime Drug Trafficking Act which seek to grant powers to the Minister of National Security to waive Jamaica's jurisdiction over its nationals found with contraband on vessels in Jamaican territorial waters.

Dr Barnett, whose opinions are cited in judgments by high court judges, says he believes the proposed action is unconstitutional, unprincipled and puts accused Jamaicans at an unfair disadvantage to suit foreign prosecutors. 

He says if the Senate votes conscientiously, it would reject the proposed changes. 


Renowned constitutional expert, Dr Lloyd Barnett

Last week, Opposition and Government senators raised issues about the proposal changes forcing Justice Minister Mark Golding to suspend the debate to consult with National Security Minister, Peter Bunting. 

The House of Representatives approved the changes in September. 

However, Dr Barnett says he is not surprised because the Lower House has not been very careful in considering anti-crime measures.