Mon | May 10, 2021

Chang says no more SOEs until appeal

Published:Tuesday | February 23, 2021 | 5:21 PM
Last September, a Supreme Court judge ruled that the detention of five men under the states of emergency was unconstitutional.

Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang, says the Government will not seek to declare another state of emergency (SOE) until its appeal is heard.

At the same time, Chang noted that the security measure will be imposed only when absolutely needed.

He was today addressing a Gleaner Editor’s Forum on crime.

Jamaica has recorded 218 murders since the start of 2021.

SOEs were one of the main features in the government’s crime fighting strategies.

Last September, a Supreme Court judge ruled that the detention of five men under the states of emergency was unconstitutional.

The men had been detained for extended periods in at least three parishes.

Justice Bertram Morrison had declared that the men’s constitutional rights and the Constitution itself had been violated by what was described as executive detention.

The Government subsequently filed an appeal.

According to Chang, it is the full court that ought to rule on the constitutionality of the SOE, especially at this stage.

Chang said, “He [the judge] had made some comments but we have to go to the Court of Appeal to get their call. We are confident we will be successful in dealing with it there, of course, we may have to look at some of the regulations, which is a different issue.”

Chang reiterated that if it was absolutely necessary, the government would consider declaring another SOE.

The security minister told the forum that strong policing would be deployed in affected areas before pursuing the measure.

“It goes back to the level of lawlessness... gangs taking over communities, capturing and murdering people... burning down homes and running people out,” Chang said as he cited conditions where the declaration of a state of emergency would be absolutely necessary.

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