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Senate continues to debate extension of SOEs

Government Senator Matthew Samuda and Opposition Senator Janice Allen
 
The government's attempt to get a three-month extension of the states of emergency appears set to fail in the Senate.
 
Senators are debating the motion to extend the anti-crime measure in seven police divisions until February 12.
 
Opening the debate, Government Senator Matthew Samuda, said it was clear crime was at a level which should be deemed an emergency. 
 
He noted that there are "particular factors locally, regionally, domestically, [and] internationally" that have contributed to crime in the country. But he also pointed to "our own decisions over the last 30-40 years", which he said had "blighted some of our development" as a country. 
 
Mr. Samuda said Jamaica was at a point where it would have to decide whether it was going to "wait until we get back to 1,600 murders" or "send this final signal...that we will use every single tool available to us to break the back of gang crime". 
 
Despite that plea, all four opposition senators who have spoken so far have made it clear they cannot vote for the measure, indicating their discomfort with the detention of persons without charge.
 
Senator Janice Allen acknowledged the opposition could face backlash if it votes against extension.
 
Although she admitted the move could be "political suicide" for the PNP, she argued that "today is not the day to be concerned about political points; it is the day to be concerned about the future of our youths who continue to be marginalised because of their address".   
 
The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to extend the states of emergency, despite the parliamentary opposition's insistence that the government's actions are unconstitutional.
 
The resolution was passed easily because of the government's large seat majority in the Lower House. 
 
However, it will need the support of at least one opposition member of the Senate if it is to be approved.
 


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