Full explanation needed on emergency powers in Parliament

Letters to the Editor

Full explanation needed on emergency powers in Parliament

Monday, March 30, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Michael Hylton, QC, in contrast to a position taken by Dr Lloyd Barnett, might very well be correct in giving a passing grade to the approach of the Government in the promulgation of emergency regulations in the wake of COVID-19.

The dilemma that the Administration is faced with, however, is getting the public to come down on its side; for the fact is that there are too many instances in which the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), over the years, whether in Government or in Opposition, has proved to be disrespectful of our laws and our constitutional provisions.

We recall Prime Minister Bruce Golding's early unfortunate face-off with the Public Services Commission over the appointment of a solicitor general. And, of course, the awful spectre of his party's and Government's disrespect of the Extradition Act in the Christopher “Dudus” Coke debacle lives with us to this day.

Nor can one forget the unconstitutional extraction by Opposition Leader Andrew Holness of pre-signed, undated resignation letters from would-be members of the Senate to guard against them voting in favour of all Jamaicans finally gaining access to one of their courts of law.

And not long ago this present JLP Government brushed aside the insistent complaints from several Opposition voices in relation to the unconstitionality of certain provisions contained in the proposed national identification system (NIDS) legislation.

The public is therefore entitled to expect a full explanation from the Government when the Parliament next meets as to the approach it has adopted in respect of these emergency regulations, so that, in these perilous times, all members of the public, including Barnett, Hylton and all parliamentarians, can be satisfied that the correct constitutional path is being followed.

A J Nicholson

nicholsonaj1@gmail.com


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