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JAMAICA | Detention of Five men under state of Emergency Unconstitutional says Juuge

  • Written by Wiredja.com- Calvin G. Brown
  • Published in Justice
Featured JAMAICA | Detention of Five men under state of Emergency Unconstitutional says Juuge
KINGSTON, Jamaica September 18, 2020 -  Supreme Court judge Justice Bertram Morrison has ruled that the detention of five men who had been jailed under the recently concluded States of Public Emergency(SOEs) is unconstitutional.

The detainees, Courtney Hall, Gavin Nobel, Courtney Thompson and Everton Douglas, who were all released from custody with the ending of the SOEs in August ahead of the September 3 general election, had been held under the State of Public Emergency — some for close to two years.

They challenged the state on the legality of their detention and the matter was heard in the Supreme Court by Justice Morrison over several days in July.

In a 64-page judgment, issued this morning, Justice Morrison outlined why the detention of the men was unlawful.

The Presiding Judge said he was unhesitant in holding that the claimant’s constitutional rights and the Constitution itself was being breached by their detention and what he described as the ‘executive detention system.’

Detention Orders under the SOEs were issued by the National Security Minister. The Judge  ruled that the Detention Order was also unlawful.

Justice Morrison said that the use of the Orders for the imprisonment of the detainees for criminal cases without a proper review was a breach of  the Separation of Powers doctrine.

Under the Emergency Powers Regulations, a tribunal is set up to hear a claimant’s objections to his detention.

However, Justice Morrison holds that the tribunal should not give a direction for the detention of the claimant in circumstances which conflict with his constitutional right.

Bertram Morrison
Supreme Court Justice Bertram Morrison

In his judgement, Justice Morrison said it is his view that Emergency Powers Regulations 30 and 33 in relation to the detention orders and appearing before a tribunal gives unfettered discretion to the Police and National Security Minister.

This in relation to the committal of persons to penal institutions or jail for offences which are criminal offences.

He says those regulations violate the basic structure of the Constitution regarding Separation of Powers, the rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights.

He noted that the claimants were entitled to a fair procedure for depriving them of their liberty.

However, Justice Morrison said what he described as a laxly worded regulation is void for vagueness and providing too general a power to the National Security Minister.

He has ruled that the detention of the men at the will of the Executive is violative of the Jamaican Constitution.

The Presiding Judge has further ruled that aspects of the Emergency Powers Act were in conflict with the Constitution.

He notes that the Act makes reference to parts of the Constitution that have been repealed.

Meanwhile, Justice Morrison has granted orders for the detainees to seek compensation.

He told the court, it cannot be that in a free and democratic society, persons are held in custody for an inordinately long time then released, then go away with no compensation.

He further reasoned that wasn’t his understanding of the law.

Meanwhile, the attorney representing the 5 men who were detained under the State of Public Emergency, John Clarke, has indicated that compensation will be sought for persons detained under the recently concluded States of Public Emergency.


Last modified onFriday, 18 September 2020 19:40
  • Countries: Jamaica