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KINGSTON – The leader of the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP), Dr Peter Phillips says the opposition will be challenging the constitutionality of the continued state of emergency (SOE) in Jamaica.
Phillips, speaking to RJR News following the two-day meeting of the PNP’s National Executive Council (NEC) on Sunday, said the SOE was not designed to be used for crime control.
“We have also said that we believe that there should be a testing in the courts . . . that states of emergency were not intended to be a crime control measure, outside of some insurrection or some direct challenge to constitutional laws and our legal team is looking at that to see what is the best way to cause the courts to make a determination,” he told radio listeners.
Last weekend, National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang, said there has been a significant reduction in murders as a result of the SOE, particularly in the South Andrew Police Division.
The government declared the SOE on July 7 to curtail the high level of crime plaguing communities in the Division, particularly murders which soared to 94 at the time.
But Chang, who toured the area last weekend, noted that while 21 people were killed one month prior to the SOE, its introduction has brought a level of stability across the Division.
“For the last three weeks, we have had a significant fall-off; it means that some 20 persons’ lives have been saved. That is the mission of a state of emergency,” he said.
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck told radio listeners that the courts would have a difficulty in ruling that the states of emergency being used as an ongoing crime-fighting tool are unconstitutional.
He based his position on the fact the majority of legislators, including those in the opposition, have been voting in favour of their extension.
Meanwhile, police are searching for gunmen who shot and killed a 37-year-old mother and her daughter in St Catherine on Sunday night.
Police said that Winsome Williams and her 23-year-old daughter, Daniella Carnegie, were shot several times by the gunmen and were pronounced dead at hospital.
The police gave no motive for the killings. (CMC)