OPM – Prime Minister Andrew Holness has declared a State of Public Emergency in the parish of St. James effective Thursday, January 18.
The Prime Minister made the announcement this afternoon (January 18) at a press conference held at Jamaica house.
Crime and violence in particular murders have been escalating in the parish of St. James. I have been advised by the security forces in writing that the level of criminal activity experience continued and threatened, is of such a nature and so extensive in scale as to endanger public safety. – PM Holness
The Constitution provides that a period of public emergency can be declared by a proclamation if the Governor General is satisfied that action has been taken or is immediately threatened by any person or body of persons in such a nature and on so extensive a scale as likely to endanger pubic safety.
Last year, 335 murders were recorded in St. James, which is twice the number of any other parish.
— JamaicaObserver (@JamaicaObserver) January 18, 2018
Prime Minister Holness outlined that under the state of emergency the security forces will have extraordinary powers and some rights will be suspended. He noted, that this does not mean the actions of the security forces will be beyond review or can be arbitrary. They will have the power to search, curtail operating hours of businesses, access to places and to detain people without a warrant. In addition, vehicles and passengers are subject to search at various checkpoints and during static and mobile patrols.
The security forces are expected and have been directed to treat citizens with respect and protect dignity and safety of all concerned. – PM Holness
Security Minister, Hon. Robert Montaque made an appeal to the residents of St. James for the full cooperation during the period. He acknowledged usual activities may be curtailed. However, he assured that the operations will be targeted at criminal elements and their facilitators.
Any information you have, we need it. We need your full cooperation in moving forward in restoring peace and order so that good people can continue to contribute to the well-being of Jamaica. – Montaque
A special hotline has been set up to be maned by the Jamaica Defense Force. The number is (876) 830 8888 or they can call crime stop at 311.