Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Government plans to consult with the wider society on the usage of states of public emergency (SOEs) to secure stakeholder buy-in.
Holness said people being targeted include citizens and commercial interests, adding that the proposed undertaking aims to determine “how the Government can use this very effective tool to help to curb the murder rate that is affecting everyone.”
“That [consultation is a] process I intend to [undertake]. There probably now needs to be renewed effort at wider… social engagement,” the prime minister added.
He was speaking during a virtual press briefing on Sunday, January 9, where he announced the declaration of a Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) in Parade Gardens, Central Kingston.
Holness noted that in previous iterations of the SOEs, there were consultations and collaboration between the Government and the Opposition, which “saw an agreement that where the murder rate is 32 per 100,000, then the use of the SOEs would be considered reasonable from a public policy standpoint”.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte said, according to Section 20 of the Constitution, under the Emergency Powers Act and the Emergency Security Forces Act, the Government can “use [SOEs] when they assess it necessary to do so, which needs the buy-in of the Opposition”.
She pointed out, however, that based on certain developments, the legislative provisions “undoubtedly need to [be] updated”, adding that “we will have to look at everything” to this end.