Jamaica News: The Senate approved five Emergency Powers Resolutions that will facilitate the extension of States of Public Emergency (SOEs) now in place until September 3, during its sitting at Gordon House on Friday (July 24).
The Resolutions are: the Emergency Powers (No. 3), 2019, (Continuance) (No. 3) Resolution, 2020; the Emergency Powers, 2019, (Continuance) (No. 3) Resolution, 2020; the Emergency Powers (No. 2), 2019, (Continuance) (No. 3) Resolution, 2020; the Emergency Powers (No. 2) (Continuance) (No. 2) Resolution, 2020; and the Emergency Powers (Continuance) (No. 3) Resolution, 2020.
They relate to SOEs imposed in the police divisions of Clarendon, St. Catherine, St. James, Westmoreland, Hanover, Kingston East, Kingston Central, Kingston Western, and St. Andrew South.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and Leader of Government Business in the Upper House, Senator the Hon, Kamina Johnson Smith, who piloted the Resolutions said that, as at July 18, Jamaica has managed to maintain an overall 13 per cent reduction in serious crimes over the comparative period last year, consequent on the SOEs.
She informed that murders have declined by three per cent, shootings by 11 per cent, rape by 16 per cent, robberies by 12 per cent, and break-ins by 24 per cent.
Senator Johnson Smith pointed out that all areas under the SOEs have also recorded reductions in murders and shootings.
“In respect of the Kingston Eastern Police Division, for the comparative 173-day period prior to the state of public emergency declaration, they have experienced an overall reduction in murders and shootings by 55 per cent and 69 per cent respectively,” she indicated.
The Minister further noted that, as at July 19, 2020, a total of eight firearms and 87 rounds of ammunition have been found and seized.
Additionally, she said 23 persons have been arrested and charged while 19 are in custody.
Regarding Clarendon and St. Catherine, Senator Johnson Smith said there has been an overall reduction in murders and shootings in these parishes.
“For the comparative 316-day period, prior to and during the state of emergency, the parishes have experienced an overall reduction in murders and shootings by 22 per cent and 25 per cent respectively,” she indicated
The Minister said that, as at July 19, a total of 54 firearms and 1,537 rounds of ammunition have been seized, 1,560 persons arrested and charged, while 15 others remain in custody.
The St. Andrew South police division, recorded a four per cent reduction in murders and 12 per cent decline in shootings.
“Since the declaration and as at the 19th of July, 48 firearms and 685 rounds of ammunition were seized, 54 persons have been arrested and charged and 67 persons remain in custody,” Senator Johnson Smith said.
Over in the tri-parish area of St. James, Westmoreland and Hanover, she advised that there has been a 24 per cent reduction in murders and a 25 per cent fall in shootings.
The Minister pointed out that St. James continues to experience the lowest murder rate in 17 years.
“Since the declaration and as at the 19th of July 2020, [a total of] 177 firearms and 5,588 rounds of ammunition were seized, 1,495 persons were arrested and charged and 87 persons remain in custody,” she said.
In respect of the Kingston Central and Kingston Western police divisions, Senator Johnson Smith said marginal reductions have been recorded in relation to murders and shootings.
Senator Johnson Smith also informed that one firearm and 13 rounds of ammunition were seized, nine persons arrested and charged while 51 individuals remain in custody.
She pointed out that the enhanced security measures have been saving lives, delivering results and weakening criminals’ capacity.
“While we give thanks for these successes, we clearly are not where we would want to be and, yes, where we want to be is sleeping with our doors open, we don’t resile from that aspiration,” the Minister stated.
“More measurably, however, we note that our homicide rate is still much higher than both global and regional averages. It is important, therefore, that we work to maintain these downward trends as we continue to develop the capacity of our security forces,” Senator Johnson Smith added.
Following the debate, 15 Senators voted in support of the Resolutions, with five opposing them; one Senator was absent.
The extensions were approved by the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 21).
During SOEs, the security forces have the power to search, curtail operating hours of business, restrict access to places and detain persons without a warrant.
It also gives them the power to stop and question persons, seize property, and control public gatherings and movements.
Source: JIS News