Gov't left crime Bill for months, now rushing
Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has accused the Andrew Holness-led administration of seeking to rush the passage of the anti-crime bill currently before the Parliament after allowing it to languish in the House of Representatives.
Earlier this month, the police disclosed that the murder rate is up 19 per cent so far this year, and that Jamaica could register over 1,800 homicides this year.
Speaking at a People’s National Party divisional meeting in Milk River, Clarendon, last evening, Dr Phillips said the Zones of Special operation bill was tabled in the House of Representatives months ago, but the Government did nothing with it, despite concerns raised by the opposition.
He accused the government of now seeking to rush the bill simply to say that it is doing something amid the escalating murder rate
The bill was tabled in Parliament on March 21, during the Prime Minister’s contribution to the 2017/2018 Budget Debate.
In the meantime, Phillips also repeated the opposition’s stance that it cannot support the bill in its current form.
He sought to make it clear that the Opposition was not against making legislative changes in the bid to fight crime, but he insisted most of the powers being sought under the Bill are already in law.
He said the only difference in the current bill is the power the prime minister would have to declare areas as zones of special operations.
Phillips said to give the political directorate this power would be dangerous.
The Zones of Special Operation bill could provide the security forces with powers to search places, vehicles or persons within specific areas without a warrant.
Opposition spokesman on national security Peter Bunting has urged the special select committee of Parliament deliberating on the bill to tread carefully in giving the police sweeping emergency powers when it is not needed to tackle crime.