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  • The House of Representatives on Tuesday (October 16) approved the Emergency Powers (Continuance) (No.4) Resolution 2018, which will extend the State of Public Emergency (SOE) in the parish of St. James until January 31, 2019.
  • All 47 members of the House that were present voted in favour of the motion. Sixteen members were absent.
  • In his remarks, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, noted that prior to the SOE, the homicide rate in St. James was at 182 per 100,000.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday (October 16) approved the Emergency Powers (Continuance) (No.4) Resolution 2018, which will extend the State of Public Emergency (SOE) in the parish of St. James until January 31, 2019.

All 47 members of the House that were present voted in favour of the motion. Sixteen members were absent.

In his remarks, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, noted that prior to the SOE, the homicide rate in St. James was at 182 per 100,000.

“The calling of the SOE for St. James was without question justified, because it was an emergency,” he pointed out.

“Given the state of affairs today, and the comparatively good results between the 2017 and 2018 crime figures, we can unequivocally say at this point it has been successful in reducing murders,” he added.

Mr. Holness said that between January 1, 2018 when the SOE was declared and October 11, 2018, the St. James Police Division accounted for 77 murders and 86 shooting incidents.

This reflected declines of 53 per cent and 67 per cent, respectively, in both murders and shootings, when compared to the same period in 2017, when there were 234 murders and 184 shootings.

During the SOE, the security forces will have the power to search, curtail operating hours of business, restrict access to places and detain persons without a warrant.

It also gives them power to stop and question persons, seize property, and control public gatherings and movements.

The Constitution provides that a period of public emergency can be declared by proclamation if the Governor-General is satisfied that action has been taken or is immediately threatened by any person or body of persons of such a nature and on so extensive a scale as to be likely to endanger public safety.

The Emergency Powers Act refers to the existence of a State of Public Emergency and empowers the Governor-General to make regulations during a period of public emergency.