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Lower House votes to extend SOEs

Mark Golding and Marlene Malahoo Forte
 
The House of Representatives on Tuesday night voted to extend the states of emergency (SOEs) for three months despite the parliamentary opposition's insistence that the government's actions are unconstitutional.
 
Opposition Leader Mark Golding said his side could not support the use of states of emergency over an extended period for crime fighting.
 
Mr. Golding said he received legal advice that the updated regulations do not address concerns about prolonged detention of persons under the states of emergency. 
 
"I have received a legal opinion from a leading Queen's Counsel in this country on the current version of the regulations that were promulgated for these states of emergency, and it is clear that the new form of regulations continue to violate the Constitution in the opinion of that eminent Queen’s Counsel," he told the House.  
 
But Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte insisted the government was on sound legal footing.
 
"The practice of law is such that views will defer, and then it's a competition for the better view to prevail. But just to say to the people of Jamaica that we have reviewed the provisions with great care and the version of the regulations for these two States of Public Emergency have revised and new provisions, particularly in relation to detention," she declared.  
 
The government is proposing to extend the states of emergency now in place in seven police divisions until February 12.
 
The House of Representatives passed the resolution with 46 'yes' votes and two MPs voting 'no'.
 
Fifteen people were registered as absent, as most opposition members were not in the chamber at the time of the vote.
 
The resolution will now go to the Senate where it will need the support of the opposition to be approved.


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