Govt’s considering attorneys’ request for exemption from COVID-19 restrictions

Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte says the Government is considering a request from the Jamaican Bar Association for lawyers who are performing certain legal duties outside of their homes, to be allowed to move during any restrictions affecting movements.

Speaking at a virtual press conference at Jamaica House on April 20, she said the omission of private lawyers from the categories of essential workers who are exempted, was not an intentional move by the government.

“To members of the legal profession, there was no deliberate decision to exempt you, but bear in mind that we are containing movements and we are also mindful of what you do and how your duties are impacted if you can’t move, so be assured that the matter is being dealt with,” she said.

The Attorney General said the matter was brought to her attention by President of the Jamaican Bar Association, Emile Leiba, via a letter to the Minister of National Security. Leiba, in the letter, had expressed concerns about attorneys not being included in the list of essential service professionals who are exempted from being prosecuted while undertaking their duties.

The categories of persons exempted under the nightly islandwide curfews now underway as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus include parliamentarians, the judiciary, telecoms and energy-sector, staff members of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), members of the Cabinet Office and the Solicitor General’s Office, members of the media and healthcare professionals.