Mon | Oct 22, 2018

St Catherine north state of emergency extended by Senate

Published:Friday | September 21, 2018 | 5:06 PM
Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith - Contributed photo

Members of the Senate today voted to extend the State of Public Emergency in the St Catherine North Police Division for another three months.

The security measure, which was slated to end on October 2, will remain in place until January 2, 2019.

All 19 members who were present voted in favour of the extension.

Two Senators were absent.

Addressing the Senate, Leader of Government Business and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith said the enhanced security measures in the St Catherine North Police Division have proven to be a highly effective tool in the fight against crime.

"The effectiveness of the State of Emergency is undisputed. Since this year, in fact up to September 19 and particularly since the declaration of the State of Public Emergency, St Catherine North Division has experienced a 21.2 [per cent] reduction in the number of murders and a 35.5 [per cent] reduction in shootings, when compared to the same period in 2017,” the Johnson Smith said.

"Overall, murders, shootings, robberies, break-ins, larceny, and rape have declined by approximately 32.3 per cent in St. Catherine North. Another way to look at what has been happening in that space is to note that 82 murders and 72 shootings were recorded over a period of 160 days prior to the state of emergency, while during the first 168 days of the state of emergency, 27 murders and 22 shootings were recorded," she added.

Murders down

Johnson Smith also noted that the national murder rate has declined by 20.2 per cent as at September 19, adding that the figure was impacted by the successes of the state of emergency.

Providing figures regarding the number of arrests in the division, she said between March 18 and September 19, the security forces arrested 33 persons on charges of murder in respect of 29 reported cases.

Senator Johnson Smith added that during the same period last year there were 29 arrests out of 70 reported cases of murder.

"The success of the state of emergency does not mean that we are where we should be... . We are talking about how do we get back to a place of peace and safety where normal policing can suffice," she said.

Johnson Smith said the request for a further extension was based on the recommendation of the security forces and is necessary to satisfy the short-to-medium-term objectives of a secure Jamaica.

"We cannot back down now, not when we are making inroads. It will not go on forever; it is not the long-term plan and it is not intended to interfere with the rights of residents to enjoy freedoms to which they are entitled. It is, however, required to get us to a place where normal policing can succeed," she argued.

The resolution was approved in the House of Representatives earlier this week.

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