PM Says State of Emergency was Necessary


Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, says that while emergency powers must never become a permanent or even medium-term tool for fighting crime, given the level of crime in Jamaica, it was considered necessary.
In a broadcast to the nation on Wednesday, July 21, Mr. Golding said the brazen and organised nature of crime, made an emergency necessary in the short term, “in order to break the back of this monster, rid the streets of the main perpetrators and create the conditions where normal policing can be effective”.
He was responding to criticisms from the Opposition of his aborted attempt, on Tuesday, July 20, in the House of Representatives, to extend the State of Emergency, by 30 more days. The emergency became effective for one month on May 23 in Kingston and St. Andrew, then was extended to July 22, with St. Catherine included.
“The Opposition and others have advanced essentially two arguments: (1) that the conditions to justify a State of Emergency, as set out in the Constitution do not exist; and (2) that there are adequate powers in the Constabulary Force Act including cordon and search to effectively deal with crime,” the Prime Minister said.
“The Constitution provides for a State of Emergency in various circumstances including a state of war, natural or man-made disasters, outbreak of disease or other calamity and the threat of action which endangers public safety. For too long, desperate criminals have kept the society in a state of crisis as far as public safety is concerned,” he added.
Mr. Golding noted that Jamaicans were not the only ones who have faced this type of crisis.
“The United States declared a national emergency after 9/11. It has been extended several times, the most recent being by President Obama in September last year, and it is still in place because it is considered that the threat still exists,” he said.
“Secondly, the powers of cordon and curfew have been in place since 1994, but that has not prevented the crime rate from reaching record levels. We are in no doubt that the State of Emergency was necessary and a further extension would have enabled us to more effectively disrupt the criminal networks and put more of the criminals behind bars,” he noted.
Mr. Golding thanked “the men and women of the Police and Military” for the hard work and long hours they have been putting into the emergency operations.
“I wish to commend them for the way in which they have conducted themselves. Wherever instances of abuse have been reported, the leadership has sought to investigate them and, where necessary, take corrective action and those who are culpable are being brought to account,” he pointed out.
He said that while residents in some communities have been inconvenienced, “it is the price we must ask them to pay to enable us to deal with the extraordinary phenomenon that crime has proven to be”.

JIS Social