Jamaica declares crime emergencies in seven parishes
With a six percent increase in murders as at November 13 this year, the Andrew Holness-led administration has declared states of public emergency (SOEs) in seven parishes to cauterise the bloodletting across the country that has claimed at least 1,360 lives to date.
SOEs are currently under way in the parishes of Westmoreland, St James, Hanover, St Catherine, Clarendon, Kingston and St Andrew.
The announcement was made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday morning at a press briefing at Jamaica House.
With the parliamentary Opposition voting against extending SOEs in November 2021, Holness said he is hoping that his colleagues on the Opposi-tion benches will this time vote in favour of the measure in the Upper House.
In the Lower House the Government has a two-thirds majority to approve the extension of the SOE. However, the Government needs one vote from the Opposition benches in the Senate to extend the measure.
The prime minister said that in the current SOE the security forces will be looking to strengthen their powers to search.
He said that the police would be placing emphasis on finding and disarming gunmen.
According to Holness, the security forces will be using intelligence to pursue persons who are intent on carrying out criminal activities, and who intimidate witnesses when they are brought before the courts.
“We would now under the SOE have the ability to hold on to such persons, but this is not arbitrary. This Government does not believe in the arbitrary use of power,” Holness said.
He indicated that the new regulations under the SOE are crafted in a manner to safeguard life as well as the rights of all Jamaicans.