STATE OF PUBLIC EMERGENCY
In a Jamaica House press conference a short while ago, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Honourable Andrew Holness declared that “the parish of St. James is now under a state of public emergency.”
RISE IN MURDERS
This is as a result of the rising murder figures in the parish, which is known as the murder capital of Jamaica. Last year, the parish recorded 335 murders, which is a 25% increase over the previous year (2016).
A few hours ago, it was declared that the Prime Minister had called in the army into the parish of St. James.
The Prime Minister refused to state the duration of the State of Emergency, citing “strategic reasons.”
EXTRAORDINARY POWERS TO SECURITY FORCES
According to Prime Minister Andrew Holness, under the state of emergency, members of the security forces will have “extraordinary powers” and some rights are suspended.
“The declaration of a state of emergency does not mean the suspension of the rule of law. The security forces are expected and have been instructed to treat citizens with respect and protect the dignity and safety of all,” Holness said.
The state of emergency allows local law enforcement officials to search homes and individuals, curtail operation hours of businesses and detain suspects without warrant. Source.
This is the 6th state of emergency to be called in the history of Jamaica since Independence in 1962. These were 1966, 1976, 2004, 2007 and 2010.
WHAT THE PUBLIC SHOULD EXPECT
Major General Rocky Meade, The Jamaica Defense Force Chief of Defense Staff, says the national reserves have also been called out.
There will be joint military patrols, static bases as well as mobile patrols.
The JDF chief says that all persons going in and out of the parish are liable to be searched, whether vehicular or body search. Persons will also be asked to verify identity.
The Major General reassures the nation that he has advised his troops to treat the public with respect.
Major General Meade said the aim is to pursue what he called “violence producers” and all other criminal elements.
The operation will also target the gangs, lotto scammers, as well as persons trafficking arms and drugs.
An official number has been given to the public who want to give information. The number is 830-8888.