Mon | Apr 6, 2020

Opposition rejects blame for 'failed' 2010 State of Emergency

Published:Monday | April 30, 2018 | 3:07 PMJerome Reynolds, Janet Silvera
Holness ... We fell into a trap in 2010 when we did not get the support of the Opposition to extend the state of emergency.

Members of the Opposition have hit back at Prime Minister Andrew Holness who has charged that the extension of the State of Emergency in 2010 failed because the then parliamentary opposition did not support it.

Holness, who was speaking at a function on Saturday in St James, where there is one of two states of public emergencies, asserted that the opposition's refusal to support the security measure back then has resulted in the present hike in crime.

He said the present government will not allow history to be repeated and encourage the opposition and its leader, Dr Peter Phillips, to put aside partisan politics and do what is right for the country in the fight against crime.

"We fell into a trap in 2010 when we did not get the support of the Opposition to extend the state of emergency which was called then," Holness said as he expressed disappointment with the opposition's position.

"Unfortunately, I am seeing a similar situation that is likely to play out based on a declaration by the Leader of the Opposition recently. My advice to the Leader of the Opposition, who is also a student of history: do not let history repeat itself. Do not throw away the opportunity that we have as a country to once and for all bring the crime monster to heel. Such a statement can only give criminals the resolve that there is a political divide in the fight against crime," Holness said.

Speaking at a press conference last Thursday, Phillips had said after the current request to be heard in Parliament on Tuesday, the opposition would not support further extensions of the security measure unless the government puts forward valid reasons and a clear plan of action to tackle crime.

In posts on social media, Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Fitz Jackson and Mark Golding, the shadow finance minister and former justice minister, charged that Holness' claims about 2010 and the murder rate are false.

They both said at the time, when the JLP had 32 seats to the PNP's 28, the Constitution allowed for a resolution to extend a state of emergency by a simple majority of both Houses.

"Therefore, the JLP government of the day could have extended it if they wished, because they had the required majority. They chose not to extend it,” Golding charged in a post on Facebook.

"Also, the data on murders in each year after 2010 show that the decision not to extend it has nothing to do with what is happening today," said Golding who cited murder tallies from 2011 to 2018.

Jackson was also dismissive on Twitter.

"The crisis in 2010 was as a result of the then government protecting Dudus [Christopher Coke]. I am not ascribing the current situation to that. But for the present government to blame the non-support of the state of emergency in 2010 to what is happening now is irresponsible and deceptive," Jackson said.

In his speech on Saturday, Holness charged that Phillips was more interested in political bickering as opposed to seriously looking at the realities on the ground as they relates to the benefits of the security measure in St James.

"I wish to assure you the good citizens of St James that the government which I lead will find every single measure within the law to ensure that the fight against crime will not be derailed…with or without the support of the Opposition”.

Holness further argued that it was the support of the people that mattered stating that he was confident of it.

"Use your social media, use your voice…let them know how you feel,” he added.

“Let them feel the heat.” 

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