On the one hand, the Chair of the Independent Jamaica Council of Human Rights (IJCHR), Dr. Lloyd Barnett, Q.C., concludes that the announced restrictions which have been placed on individual’s right to freedom of movement and association in the country’s Covid-19 response are unconstitutional as they have not been promulgated in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
Former Solicitor General, Mr. Michael Hylton, Q.C., proffered a different view on the matter.
The Constitution sets out the framework for a situation such as the one being experienced in Jamaica and the rest of the world. As Jamaica wrestles with this crisis, it is important that there be no division over this issue.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, the Government should cause the Governor General, His Excellency Sir Patrick Allen, ON GCMG CD KStJ, to issue the appropriate proclamation under Section 20 of the Constitution which gives him the authority to so do, if he is satisfied ‘that a period of public disaster has arisen as a result of the occurrence of any earthquake, hurricane, flood, fire, outbreak of pestilence, outbreak of infections, disease or other calamity, whether similar to the foregoing or not’,” Senator Scott-Mottley said.
The PNP stands ready to support the Government in the measures being taken to combat this deadly disease but they must be anchored within ambit of our legal provisions. Senator Scott-Mottley said there should be no ambiguity in our efforts to combat the COVID-19 crisis and the rights and freedom of our people.
“This crisis which we face as a nation is unprecedented. It is a time when the entire country should come together in recognition of our humanity and vulnerability. We continue to urge all Jamaicans to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and family and follow the advice issued by of the health authorities. We are all in this together,” the Shadow Minister reminded.
The PNP is of the view that a declaration of a State of Public Emergency in the current circumstances is one which will ensure that the clear signal is sent that the Constitution is supreme.
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