Thursday 26 November, 2020

Francois calls State of Emergency extension an abuse of power

Martinus François

Martinus François

Barrister-at-law Martinus Francois has expressed the view that the State of Emergency in St Lucia should not be extended.

Francois told reporters: "State of Emergency, by definition, there has to be an emergency and if they are talking about opening up the country very soon, therefore there is no emergency. So that is really an abuse of that particular law or provision. The constitution provides for that but there has to be an emergency... it doesn't make any sense at all."

He continued: "If you're going to open up the country it means that there is no emergency. You cannot predict an emergency. The coronavirus has given us a little break so far and we don't know the future, so there is no emergency. All this is nonsense. They're abusing the political power they have."

Martinus was asked what he made of the lack of any significant public outrage regarding the extension, to which he responded: "Saint Lucians are very passive and they don't even know their rights. They are afraid of government and they are afraid of politicians. If there is no emergency, this can be challenged in court so they're maybe using that as pretext for something else and that cannot be right."

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet shared 15 reasons why an extension to the COVID-19 State of Emergency is necessary to his Facebook page:

1) As of Tuesday, May 26, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported the following with regard to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19):
- Number of Cases – 5,611,601
- Number of Deaths – 348,334

2) The world has seen a steady rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths since March 2020. There is still no cure, as humanity grapples with this killer and its impact on our way of life.

3) Despite Saint Lucia’s success in keeping the number of cases at 18, it is envisaged that Saint Lucia, like the rest of the world, will experience recurring waves of the virus as we delicately lift and adjust where necessary the public health and social measures that were implemented to contain and reduce transmission.

4) The outbreak of COVID-19 has created two crises: one is a health crisis and the other is an economic crisis, the likes of which we have never seen.

5) Much of the success that we have achieved with COVID-19 has been due to the Declaration of a State of Emergency combined with the efforts of our frontline workers

6) We cannot become complacent, we cannot afford to drop our guard or return to our previous way of life. COVID-19 continues to ravage the world with new cases and deaths being recorded every day!

7) We can no longer continue to exist in a bubble. Safety, hygiene and economic stability will be even more important in designing the post-lockdown world.

8) World Health Organization Emergencies Director Dr Mike Ryan has warned against trying to predict when the virus would disappear. He stated that the coronavirus “MAY NEVER GO AWAY.” He added that even if a vaccine is found, controlling the virus will require a “massive effort and that this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities”

9) The World Health Organization recommendation is still that the alert of every country should be at the highest level possible.

10) As we lift the public health and social measures that were implemented to contain and reduce transmission, we anticipate the resurgence of cases with the opening of the borders, as most countries remain in active infection

11) Our population remains susceptible to COVID-19 so the risk of transmission once introduction occurs is likely

12) Our new normal requires an efficient system to ensure the rapid implementation of safety measures which the “State of Emergency” allows

13) This Government has been responsible in our actions under the Emergency Powers Act. Every time we amended or adjusted any part of the Act, every single time we put a new measure in place, we reported and informed the people of Saint Lucia. We explained why, every step of the way. The recordings, videos and constant reporting is available for all to see.

14) In total, we have established approximately 15 triggers and 9 public health monitoring indicators which form a solid foundation for us to monitor and respond to any COVID-19 situation.

15) The extension will also permit the continuance of the assistance provided by the 100 member Cuban Medical Team who is authorized to work ONLY during the State of Emergency, thereby strengthening the personnel capacities of the health sector during this volatile period.

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