The constitutionality of states of emergency (SOEs), the main plank in the Government’s crimefighting kit, will be decided in the courts.
Opposition Leader Mark Golding revealed on Tuesday that the People’s National Party (PNP) has asked the Supreme Court to “rule definitively” on the matter.
Golding, who spoke to the issue during his contribution to the 2023/24 Budget Debate in Gordon House, made the disclosure on the same day that the government announced that two more SOEs had been declared for Clarendon and St James following an upsurge of violence.
The government and the opposition have been at loggerheads over the administration’s repeated use of SOEs to combat major crimes.
The Golding-led PNP has insisted that this approach by the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party is unconstitutional while having the unintended effect of watering down the emergency measure which the PNP argues makes SOEs ineffective.
The government has insisted that SOEs are constitutional and have been effective in reducing crime, particularly murder.
The PNP has pulled its support from the SOEs since last November, forcing the government to declare short-term SOEs.
By law, the government is allowed to declare a SOE for two weeks, after which it must secure a two-thirds vote in both Houses of Parliament for it to be extended for up to three months each time.
While it has the votes in the House of Representatives, the government is one vote short in the Senate. It has nonetheless declared four separate rounds of SOEs since December, each ending after just two weeks.