Knight Abstains as Senate Approves SOE Extension

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Opposition Senator KD Knight this afternoon broke ranks with colleagues in the Senate and abstained from voting on a resolution which paves the way for an extension of the state of public emergency in St. James.

But, despite Senator Knight’s abstention, the resolution which proposes an extension of the enhanced security measure in the parish until January 31 next year was approved in the Upper House.

The state of public emergency in St. James was announced by Prime Minister Holness in January this year.

A combined total of 17-senators from both the Government and Opposition, this afternoon voted in favor of the resolution.

Three Senators were absent and there were no votes against the resolution. The leader of Government Business in the Senate, Kamina Johnson Smith, made the case for the extension of the state of public emergency.

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Senator Johnson Smith told parliament that seventy percent of the 79-murders which took place in St James this year have been cleared up. This represents an increase in the murder clear-up rate in the parish of more than 100 percent.

The Government Senate Leader noted that 151 fewer people have been murdered in the parish this year.

Mrs. Johnson Smith told colleagues that supporting the extension of the enhanced security measure is the responsible thing to do.

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But, Senator Knight abstained from voting on the resolution. Knight said he’s not convinced the Government is taking into serious consideration contributions made to the debate by Opposition members.

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In the meantime, Opposition Senate Leader, Donna Scott Mottley says the Opposition feels it had been trapped into supporting the resolution to extend the state of public emergency in St. James

Mrs. Scott Mottley argued that the Government has provided no other alternative to protect Jamaicans.

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Earlier in the debate, Senator Knight lamented that innocent people have been detained under the various states of public emergency. He said unreasonable detentions will prove to be counter productive.

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But, Government Senator, Matthew Samuda, accused Opposition Senators of attempting to normalize the occurrence of what he described as an unacceptable rate of violent crime in Jamaica.

Senator Samuda defended the state of public emergency. He noted that compared to last year, 271 fewer people have been murdered in Jamaica this year.

Senator Samuda also chided former National Security Minister and current PNP President, Dr. Peter Phillips, for not taking decisive steps to combat the murder rate when it had spiraled under his watch.

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During his contribution to debate on the motion, Opposition Senator Lambert Brown, alleged that a Chinese businesswoman was recently detained for several days in a corporate area lock-up and searched in a humiliating manner. But Government Senate Leader, Kamina Johnson Smith, said information reaching her is that the businesswoman was released within 24-hours.

Mrs. Johnson Smith says she’s been advised that investigations are underway into the circumstances in which the businesswoman was detained.

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