Public emergency regulations
The Jamaican Government yesterday released the regulations governing the period of public emergency, which was declared last Sunday evening by Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen signed off on the regulations, which will govern the current period of public emergency.
The state of emergency gives the security forces special powers to facilitate the preservation of peace and any purpose essential to public safety and the life of the community, including the provision of emergency shelters. The state of emergency is limited to Kingston and St Andrew and is expected to last for another 28 days.
The regulations give the competent authority the power to:
Prevent persons from remaining in, preventing or blocking access to any structure or building.
Prevent persons from blocking, obstructing or interfering with any road or path.
Erect barriers, block access or divert any road or cordon any area, place or premises to prohibit or otherwise regulate access to such places. Where this power is exercised, the competent authority should give notice to the public by the most effective methods. In certain instances, the orders will have to be published in the gazette - the body of laws signed by the governor general. In other cases, the competent authority may use its discretion to decide how to publish public notices, whether through posters, loudspeaker notification, flyers, banners, etc.
Establish cordons and curfews and require persons to stay indoors and not leave without the required permit. Under the regulations, persons who enter or leave an area where a curfew is in place without written or oral permission are guilty of an offence and can be placed before the court for punishment.
Direct persons in charge of vehicles to move them to some other point in a 10-mile radius.
Search premises or vehicles where persons are suspected or are likely to endanger public safety.
Stop and search vehicles if it is suspected that they are being used in a manner prejudicial to public safety.
Have right of access to do work on land which is required for the preservation of peace or regulating the supply and distribution of water, fuel, electricity transportation and other necessities (the statutory purpose).
Take over on the order of the governor general any premises or facility which provides essential services defined in the regulations.
Prevent trespass to public premises.
Prevent trespass to premises of essential services.
Protect public roads. This may include the setting up of roadblocks and cordons which should be communicated to the public via notices in newspapers or through the electronic media. Once these roadblocks or cordons are in place, persons will have to get permission to enter or leave the areas in question.
Requisition essential services, by taking possession of premises, apart from cash and securities, after notice is given.
Demand that persons furnish or produce to the competent authority articles or information in possession of persons who are deemed to have information or articles in their possession.
Restrict publication of undesirable material which may be prejudicial to the public interest or which may incite persons to commit a breach of the peace.
Prohibit assemblies of persons.
Prohibit the carrying of a firearm or other lethal weapon.
Prohibit the use of firearms and ammunition conditionally or unconditionally.
Restrict access to certain areas for persons who are suspected of acting prejudicial to public safety.
Prohibit the wearing of uniforms and emblems, except for those engaged in lawful industrial action.
Question persons and demand answers.
Arrest and detain persons whose behaviour gives reasonable grounds for suspecting that he/she is acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety, or has committed an offence against the regulations. Such persons are to be detained up to a period not exceeding 24 hours. However, the competent authority has the power to extend that detention period by a further five days on the authority of a resident magistrate or a police officer not below the rank of deputy superintendent.
Search persons and seize any article which is suspected or intended to be used in a manner prejudicial to public order and/or public safety.
Confine persons to residences on the authority of the minister to prevent such persons from acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety.
Control places of public resort and entertainment which are specified in an order.
Restrict the granting of bail for persons who contravene or fail to comply with provisions of the regulations, and where it is believed that such persons would be likely to commit a similar offence against the regulations.
Deal with compensation for the use of property and equipment during the period of the state of emergency.