Sat | Jun 25, 2022

SOE rules vacuum

Police, public in dark as Gov’t to retable regulations after fiasco

Published:Thursday | June 23, 2022 | 12:10 AM

Attorney-at-law John Clarke has raised questions about the guidance that senior police officers in St Catherine have received in the absence of the promulgation of the new regulations under the state of emergency (SOE) that was declared for the...

Attorney-at-law John Clarke has raised questions about the guidance that senior police officers in St Catherine have received in the absence of the promulgation of the new regulations under the state of emergency (SOE) that was declared for the parish last Friday.

With several persons already detained, Clarke is pressing the authorities to tell the public what regulations were informing the actions of senior police officers in the parish.

His comments come against the background of Wednesday’s notice that members of parliament (MPs) have been summoned to Gordon House today to table new SOE regulations that would revoke the ones incorrectly tabled on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s regulations contain similar provisions that have been struck down by the Constitutional Court last Friday in the Roshaine Clarke ruling.

The attorney told The Gleaner that the promulgation of the regulations was critical because people living in St Catherine can be charged for breaches.

“What is concerning is that nobody seems to have the regulations that are supposed to regulate the conduct of every citizen within the parish of St Catherine which is governed by those regulations, and that is very, very concerning,” said Clarke, adding that that approach ran contrary to good governance.

Clarke said he wrote to the attorney-at-law for the commissioner of police on Sunday requesting the regulations and the proclamation, but to date had not received a response.

He described the new regulations as either top secret or state secret.

The attorney also raised concern about the lack of a tribunal to hear appeals from persons who have been detained under the SOE.

“Every time they declare a state of public emergency, this happens. They don’t establish a tribunal for persons to go to right away,” Clarke said.

Deeply troubled

Jamaicans for Justice said it was deeply troubled by the failure of the State to announce the establishment, composition, or location of the emergency powers review tribunal.

The human-rights lobby said it was public knowledge that several persons have been detained under the SOE.

“These persons have a right to request a review of their case at any time during the period of detention,” it said in a press statement on Wednesday.

“We are concerned that the constitutional right to review by an independent and impartial tribunal will remain illusory with the continued failure of the state to establish the tribunal,” the rights body added.

Commenting on the tabling of the incorrect regulations in Parliament on Tuesday, Opposition Leader Mark Golding said it was “messy”.

Today, Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang is expected to table the Emergency Powers (Parish of St Catherine) (No.3) Regulations, 2022, which will revoke the Emergency Powers (Parish of St Catherine) (No.2) Regulations, 2022.

The (No.2) Regulation was the incorrect document that was tabled in the House on Tuesday.

Golding, a former minister of justice, said he would have expected that the chief parliamentary counsel would send the proposed regulations, having received the necessary input from the attorney general’s chambers, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of National Security, and all stakeholders who submitted comments.

He said that once those have been finalised as a draft, the document would then be sent to the printers.

After that process, Golding said that the regulations should be reviewed before they are tabled.

“I don’t know what has happened in this instance, but to me, it’s just an example of bungling on the part of the Government when it comes to how they handle legislation,” Golding said.

“It is an embarrassment.”

editorial@gleanerjm.com