The first signs of cracks within the ranks of the opposition People’s National Party over its rejection of the government’s controversial Special Zones of Operations crime-fighting bill have emerged.
A former General Secretary of the party, Paul Burke, today broke ranks with his party and declared his support for the Bill.
In an unexpected move, Mr. Burke told a Joint Select Committee of Parliament that the bill is absolutely necessary.
This is in stark contrast to several high-ranking members of the PNP hierarchy including Party President and Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips, who’ve rejected the bill.
‘Absolutely necessary!’ is the assessment of the proposed Zones of Special Operations legislation by former PNP General Secretary, Paul Burke.
Mr. Burke says he supports the bill after spending decades on the ground working with depressed communities.
Only last Sunday, Opposition Leader, Dr. Peter Phillips, called the legislation ‘oppressive’ at a meeting of the party’s National Executive Council.
He says it will only serve to further perpetuate distrust between the police and citizens. But Mr. Burke disagrees.
However, Mr. Burke says he still shares some of the concerns of the opposition regarding possible human rights abuses and political victimization.
Along with a two-year evaluation period for the proposed legislation, he’s calling for a clause requiring a two-thirds majority in parliament for time extensions.
Mr. Burke is pleading with the Parliament to give the government the ability to combat the climate of fear gripping several communities.