Friday 14 August, 2020

New legislation coming to fight crime - Holness

Andrew Holness

Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced impending legislation that will grant certain powers to the security forces to go after criminals.

Holness made the announcement Tuesday while making his contribution to the 2019-2020 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives.

“We will shortly come to the parliament with a new piece of legislation to create an intermediary, extraordinary power to assist us, the police and the military, to deal with the threats posed by the gangs and guns.

“We were not able to get the support for declaring a state of public emergency in places that deserve it but we are not deterred,” Holness said.

The prime minister told the House that he has already had discussions with the opposition regarding the proposed legislative framework. He promised that it will be done in a very transparent and cooperative manner “because what we wouldn’t want is for Jamaica’s name to be tarnished by virtue of any misuse of capabilities.”

“We see that there is a spike in murders and we are concerned, but I want to assure the people that your government is doing everything in its power to bring that situation under control. We will bring the legislation here in short order and we’re expecting the support of the opposition in passing the legislation,” Holness said.

The new legislation is an apparent way around the declaration of a state of emergency (SOE) and will apparently make it easier for the government to get the job done without the support of the parliamentary opposition. Based on the Constitution, a two-thirds majority of both houses of parliament is needed for a SOE to be declared. In December, the opposition pulled its support for the emergency measure that had been in force in four parishes to combat the country’s crime problem.

Holness told the House on Tuesday that the aim is to tackle the triple threat of guns, gangs and dons. He also listed cyber, youth disengagement and unattachment as emerging threats.

“Those are things that we need to get the capacity to address,” the prime minister stated.

Regarding the coming legislation, he said: “Let me be clear to this parliament. It is not a capacity that can be arbitrarily used. There must be systems, rules, procedures, accountability in how the capacity we acquire is used. Jamaica is not a banana republic.”

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