Tuesday, 29 November 2022 11:36

Golding proposes pre-charge detention of serious criminals over SOEs

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Opposition Leader Mark Golding is proposing the use of pre-charge detention of some 300 alleged violence producers locally as an alternative to the use of states of emergency (SOEs).

The proposal comes as the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) faces rising criticisms for failing to support an extension of the current SOEs that were imposed in seven parishes, until January 14, 2023.

With the Government having 13 of the 21 senators in the upper chamber of Parliament, at least one Opposition senator would have had to vote with the Government membership last Friday to keep the SOEs in place until January.

The SOEs are to end at midnight on Tuesday.

Amid the growing outrage over the Opposition's stance, the PNP held a press conference following its National Executive Council meeting at Spanish Town Primary School in St Catherine on Sunday, where Golding floated the suggested alternative.

“I am of the view that pre-charge detention is warranted in Jamaica's present context in relation to known violence producers who have been identified by credible intelligence as posing a realistic danger of inflicting serious violence against one or more individuals or the community," he declared.

In noting that the police have identified some 300 violence producers in recent times, the PNP president is claiming that "a legal procedure can be enacted quickly, whereby law enforcement can apply to the Supreme Court, ex parte - that means without notice to the other side (the accused)."

Golding explained that in such an application, the police would provide "supporting affidavits of the credible intelligence that justifies the immediate detention of this individual, and seeking a pre-charge detention in order to protect against that credible risk of serious violence."

According to him, this method would target more criminals, in contrast to the SOEs.

Continuing, he said: "This mechanism recognises the dire crime situation we are in, and the need for extraordinary security methods within the constitution.

"It provides a targeted approach, thus avoiding the perception of a random scraping up of persons and infringing their rights," stated Golding.

He is adamant that the use of pre-detention orders are both "defensible and justifiable", arguing that the court's intervention can provide an "objective assertion of the circumstances justifying the deprivation of liberty".

Further, he said "it recognises the need for balance between the personal rights of the individual and the public interest to meet the threshold requirement of the constitution."

Meanwhile, Golding chastised officials from the Government for disrespecting his party's position that the use of SOEs are unconstitutional.

"Our position is that the state of emergency procedure in the constitution is an extraordinary procedure, which suspends the rights of all Jamaicans who are within the state of emergency area, and is only to be used where it is necessary to protect the state and the democracy in which we live from subversion by violent elements," he explained.

The PNP president opined that such a situation does not currently exist in Jamaica to the level that requires a SOE.

What he is claiming that currently exists is "chronic violent crime that is crying out for a solution that can address the route causes of crime, even as we suppress it through appropriately tailored measures that do not infringe or undermine our basic fundamental rights and freedoms."

In the meantime, Golding remains unswayed in his view that the SOEs have only served to disrupt the lives of citizens for the past five years.

"We know that over the five years, the off-and-on use of states of emergency has resulted in many lives being badly damaged as a result of detention for long periods of innocent persons who have lost their jobs and (being) stigmatised," he claimed.

He further reiterated his stance that SOE option is a "band-aid", and does not hold guilty persons accountable, as well as allow the police to investigate and build evidence against serious gangsters.