State of emergency declared in St. Catherine, Jamaica

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has declared a state of emergency (SOE) in St. Catherine’s Parish amid an outbreak of violence in Spanish Town.

Three people were shot dead and several others injured in similar incidents in Spanish Town, St Catherine on Tuesday. Last week, a gang-related shooting also claimed the lives of four people in Spanish Town.

In delivering the SOE statement on Friday morning, Prime Minister Holness said the terrorism experienced by some communities in Spanish Town is the result of organized criminal gang activity.

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“The government must act. The government cannot sit idly by and watch innocent Jamaicans go about their business and have to rush to save their lives. The government must act. It is the government’s responsibility,” he said.

A state of public emergency gives security forces, or authorized persons, increased powers of search and arrest and limits the right of detainees to due process.

The measure can only remain in force for 14 days. If the measure is to be extended, it must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Upper House.

Prime Minister Holness said the government would act within the limits of the constitution, when it comes to state enterprises.

Increase in crime in Sainte-Catherine

Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson, who also spoke at Friday’s press conference, said the level of crime and violence in Spanish Town over the past two months had reached an all time high. which “seriously endangered public safety”.

Commissioner Anderson says there are 12 active gang disputes going on in St Catherine’s Parish. According to him, the conflicts have now reached the level where family members of gangsters are targeted for retaliatory killings.

The Commissioner of Police also clarified that there has been a sharp increase in the number of murders and shootings recorded in some areas of the parish.

“Since the beginning of 2022, in Sainte-Catherine, we have arrested 82 people for illegal possession of firearms, ammunition or both, and seized 59 illegal firearms, an increase of 28%. We have also continued to pursue gang members and have several active community engagement efforts.Despite these efforts, as of June 15, St. Catherine North Division has recorded 70 murders and 51 shootings, representing an increase of 52% and 76 % compared to last year,” explained the commissioner.

Violent conflict in Spanish Town has also spread to the neighborhoods of Portmore and Old Harbour.

The police commissioner said crime statistics from former SOEs show that this method has

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