St James man awarded $17.8M for SOE constitutional violations
The Supreme Court this morning upheld the challenge brought by St James resident Roshaine Clarke against the 2018 state of emergency imposed on the parish and declared the Emergency Powers Regulations unconstitutional.
The court ruled that the security measure infringed on Clarke's rights under the Constitution.
He was awarded millions in damages.
In his lawsuit, Clarke asserted that his right to liberty, to be informed at the time of his detention of the reason for his arrest, and to be brought before a court as soon as is reasonably practicable were breached.
Clarke asked the court to declare that the extensions of the SOE in the parish were not justified for the respective periods ending May 2, 2018, August 2, 2018, November 1, 2018, and January 31, 2019.
He also argued that the conditions under which the extensions were obtained are unconstitutional and that the circumstances that may have warranted the SOE when it was declared on January 18, 2018, did not exist after the first extension.
His application was upheld by the court.
The court held and declared that Emergency Powers Regulations 22 and 32 (in respect to the fundamental right of freedom of movement) and Regulations 30, 33 and 38 (in respect of the fundamental right to liberty) breach the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Constitution.
The regulations were declared unconstitutional by the court as it said they gave the authorities unduly unfettered power to abrogate the fundamental rights of a wide class of persons in society without evidence establishing that they were reasonably justified for achieving the purposes of the state of emergency.
The court also found and held that the Clarke's fundamental rights and freedoms under the Constitution - his right to liberty, his right to be informed of the reason for his detention as soon as is reasonably practicable and his right to be brought forthwith or as soon as is reasonably practicable before an officer authorised by law or a court - had been violated and that he is entitled to damages as redress for those violations.
He was awarded a total amount of $17,862,000, inclusive of compensatory, vindicatory and aggravated damages.
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