Where is the Emergency Powers Review Tribunal?
Security personnel at an SOE checkpoint

Dear Editor,

Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is deeply troubled by the failure of the State to announce the establishment, composition, or location of the Emergency Powers Review Tribunal.

Public knowledge is that several individuals have been detained under the St Catherine state of public emergency (SOE), which was declared on Friday, June 17, 2022. These individuals have a right to request a review of their case at any time during the period of detention.

The study is to be done under section 13 (10) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by an independent and impartial tribunal which shall be established under law and presided over by a person appointed by the chief justice of Jamaica.

The tribunal is to be established under regulation 38 (1) of the controversial Emergency Powers (Parish of St Catherine) (no 2) Regulations, 2022 (the EPR).

The tribunal is to review the detention of detainees under regulation 38 (9).

Each detainee must also receive a notice informing them of the grounds of their arrest and their rights to make their objections to the tribunal aforesaid (regulation 38 (13)).

We are concerned that the constitutional right to review by an independent and impartial tribunal will remain illusory with the continued failure of the State to establish the tribunal. The precise words of regulation 38 cannot override the constitutional provision of section 13 (10) of the charter. If this tribunal was established secretly, we ask that its composition and registry be published so detainees can make their objections known to their continued detention.

We are in the process of reviewing the EPR. We are most concerned by regulations 28, 30, 33 and 38. They are overly broad and can cause innocent citizens to have their fundamental rights unjustly abrogated, abridged and infringed. We believe these regulations may be contemptuous of the courts’ rulings about this matter.

JFJ urges the Government to announce the tribunal’s composition and how individuals detained can object to the tribunal, which is the only body with the constitutional responsibility to review these complaints. We look forward to full compliance with the spirit and tenor of our constitution.

Mickel Jackson

Executive director

communications@jamaicansforjustice.org

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