JAMAICA | PNP's Human Rights Commission flays Holness' outburst on illegal firearm holders

JAMAICA | PNP's Human Rights Commission flays Holness' outburst on illegal firearm holders

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 30, 2021 -  The Peoples National Party has expressed concern over recent pronouncements by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in relation to persons caught with illegal firearms, charging that the importance of the Prime Minister's speech regarding the mandatory death penalty for persons found in possession of an illegal firearm is the confirmation that he is a demagogue.

In a statement yesterday, the Opposition pointed out that  Prime Minister Holness  sought to titillate his audience from the conference platform by proposing fundamental changes to our laws which have no practical chance of ever being implemented, but which could be relied on to draw frenzied applause from his conference audience.

"A Prime Minister who stirs public expectations in a manner which is offensive to the Constitution, would do well to remember his own oath to protect the constitution that appointed him. Indeed, the Prime Minister is himself a creature of the Constitution," the Opposition statement said.

"The reality is that the Prime Minister’s applause-seeking proposals will not pass any serious legal examination. He has at least two well-known Queen Counsel who support him, who would do well to remind him that the case authorities have clearly defined what type of cases are appropriate for death penalty," it continued.

The Opposition noted that "the Prime Minister’s ill-advised comments fly in the face of the guidance provided by our highest court, the Privy Council in Trimmingham v The Queen [2009] UKPC 25, which articulated the exacting principle of 'the worst of the worst' in distilling the criteria for applying death penalty. A mandatory death penalty is constitutionally offensive for many reasons which can be easily identified by a first year law student. It is not by chance that the death penalty has not been carried out in Jamaica since 1988, 33 years ago."

"Equally reprehensible," the statement continued,  "was the Senate President‘s wild and unprecedented rant about the Opposition Senators’ decision not to blindly follow the lead of the JLP in disregarding the Constitution, and not to violate of the fundamental doctrine of separation of powers by disrespecting the unfinished processes of the court. 

"We hope that their comments are not indications of mission creep into a totalitarian society where the privileged and the connected make unjust laws that unfairly target and affect the poor majority in the false name of crime fighting."

"The JLP's approach is a timely reminder of their wanton disrespect and disregard for the Constitution. It reinforces the importance of safeguards in our laws to prevent demagogues from having their way with our hard-fought rights," the Opposition statement concluded.

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