Tue | Oct 17, 2017

Opposition to present minority report on zones of special operations bill

Published:Wednesday | June 28, 2017 | 9:28 AMJerome Reynolds
Leader of the Opposition, Dr Peter Phillips, said the government was rushing the report without due process.

Opposition members of the joint select committee of Parliament that reviewed the proposed law that will allow the Prime Minister to declare special zones for security operations are today to submit a minority report on the committee’s deliberations.

The Government yielded to pressure from the Opposition in Parliament yesterday after objecting to the tabling of the committee’s report.

The committee completed deliberations yesterday afternoon and chairman and justice minister, Delroy Chuck, submitted a report to Parliament in the evening.

Noting that the report was only signed by Government members on the committee, opposition legislators accused the Government of breaching parliamentary rules by tabling a report that was not supported by the committee as a whole.

However, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, citing the Standing Orders of Parliament, said a report can be tabled as long as it received the majority support by the committee.

He said the opposition has made known its objection and non-support of the bill and the Government will not be delayed in pressing ahead with tabling the report and opening the debate on the legislation.

 

Prime Minister, Andrew Holness

However, Leader of the Opposition, Dr Peter Phillips, said the government was rushing the report without due process.

 

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips

After consultations, the Prime Minister withdrew the report to give the opposition time.

But, he stressed that the report will be tabled today with or without the opposition’s minority report.

Debate on the contentious special zones legislation is expected to begin today.

The legislation is a major policy move by Prime Minister Holness to tackle the escalating crime monster which has resulted in more than 600 people being killed violently since the start of the year.

The bill will allow the prime minister to declare a special zone of operation in a situation where there is rampant criminality, gang warfare, escalating violence and murder and the threat to the rule of law and public order. 

It will also provide the security forces with powers to search places, vehicles or persons without a warrant.