Senate Approves 30-day Extension of States of Public Emergency in Six Parishes

Jamaica News: Ongoing security operations under States of Public Emergency (SOEs) in six police divisions will be intensified over the coming months.

This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., at Friday’s (December 13) sitting of the Senate, during which a 30-day extension of SOEs in St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland, Clarendon, St. Catherine North, and St. Andrew South, was approved.

The SOE in St. Andrew South, which commenced on July 7, 2019 and was slated to end to January 4, 2020, has been extended to February 4, 2020.

The Clarendon and St. Catherine North SOEs, declared on September 5, which should have ended on January 18, 2020, will continue until February 18, 2020.

Likewise, the SOEs declared on April 30, 2019 for St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland, which were scheduled to end on January 27, 2020, will now run until February 27, 2020.

The extensions were previously approved by the House of Representatives.

The SOEs fall under the Emergency Powers (No. 3) Continuance (No. 3) Resolution, 2019, in relation to Clarendon and St. Catherine North; the Emergency Powers Continuance (No. 4) Resolution, 2019, regarding St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland; and the Emergency Powers (No. 2) Continuance (No. 3) Resolution, 2019, pertaining to St. Andrew South.

Senator Charles, who piloted three motions for the extensions, pointed out that by initiating these, the Government is seeking to “effectively cauterize the threats posed by criminals and to ensure lasting transformation of the [affected] communities”.

“The SOEs, undoubtedly, remain but one of the critical tools this Government is employing to bring about the decisive suppression of violent crimes and disruption of gangs.

This extension of the SOEs is important so that we can continue to save lives and restore peace, safety and security,” he said.

Minister Charles lamented that “rampant criminality”, particularly violent crimes, as well as the threat posed by guns, gangs and dons, have fuelled an ecosystem that is well resourced and interconnected which, collectively, have necessitated security measures beyond the ambit of normal policing.

“The SOEs in these parishes are, therefore, necessary at this time as the conditions underlying the emergency still exist. This additional period will allow the security forces the time to build on their operational and strategic momentum, as any discontinuation at this time will result in a reversal of the gains which have been made in this regard,” he said.

Senator Charles added that the security forces and other allied State agencies require time to extend the interventions to actual violence interruption measures.

He reminded the Upper House that the recommendation to declare SOEs was based on the analysis that the level of violent criminal activities experienced, continuing and threatening in the specified areas, was of such a nature and on so extensive a scale, as to endanger public safety.

The Minister informed that the period prior to and during the SOEs, saw an overall reduction in murders and shootings in the targeted areas, when compared to corresponding periods in 2018.

This, he added, was in addition to several arrests and charges for varying offences.


Source: JIS News

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