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Jamaica reintroduces SOEs in several parishes as murders increase

Jamaica reintroduces SOEs in several parishes as murders increase

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Kingston – The Jamaica government on Tuesday announced the re-imposition of states of emergencies (SOEs) in several parishes after the authorities said murders had increased following the expiration of the emergency measure last week.

“Since the end of the last state of emergency, we have seen, unfortunately, an increase in criminal activities in these areas and indeed a threat to property and in some instances, public disorder,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness told a news conference.

Commissioner of Police, Major General Anthony Anderson, told reporters since the discontinuation of SOEs seven days ago, 22 murders have been committed across the island, with 17 of those killings occurring in areas where SOEs had expired in St Ann, Clarendon, St Catherine, St James, Westmoreland, Hanover and specified areas of Kingston and St Andrew.

Prime Minister Holness had declared SOEs in the seven parishes on November 15, but the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) legislators refused to support a move to extend the SOE to January 14, 2023, with Opposition Leader Mark Golding saying that the repeated use of SOEs by the government since 2017 “has …been a subversion of our constitutional order which I don’t support as it is inconsistent with my parliamentary oath”.

Holness, who leaves here later on Tuesday for Washington, where he is slated to discuss security matters with several US state agencies. told reporters that as the Christmas season approaches, there is a need to protect life and property.

Anderson said the SOEs allow residents of volatile communities to feel more secure and the impact tends to be immediate.

“At the end of the 14-day period, the divisions where the states of public emergency were in effect recorded an overall 64 per cent decline in murders, that is 17 murders compared to 47 that were recorded in the 14 days prior.

“In the seven days since the SOEs, nationally, 22 murders have already been recorded. Seventeen of which have been in the divisions the SOEs were declared.”

Anderson said that it is important that “we put the impact of the SOE into perspective with these numbers and the fact that within the first 10 days of the state of public emergency.

“There was one murder recorded from the border of Manchester and Clarendon through Clarendon, St Catherine, through St Andrew South, Kingston West, Kingston East to the border of St Thomas, one murder in the first 10 days.

“Secondly, we saw three consecutive days, November 22 to 24, where no murders were recorded. The last time such a trend was recorded was in 2012. Thirdly, we saw nationally where murders were reduced by 46 per cent over the 14-day period,” the Police Commissioner added.

Jamaica has so far recorded 1 395 murders this year as compared to 1 338 for the same period last year. (CMC)