Members of the Senate have approved a 90- day extension of the States of Public Emergency (SOEs) in the parishes of St. James, Westmoreland and Hanover.
During Friday’s (May 10) sitting of the Upper House, Senators voted in favour of the Emergency Powers (Continuance) Resolution, 2019, which will continue the enhanced security measure in the three western parishes until July 29.
The SOEs, announced by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness on April 30 for an initial period of 14 days, was set to expire on Monday (May 13).
During the debate, Leader of Government Business and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, said that the extension was necessary in order to effectively address the rise in crime in the parishes, particularly murders.
Between January 1 and April 28 this year, 29 persons were murdered in Westmoreland; 27 persons in St. James; and 18 persons in Hanover.
Senator Johnson Smith noted that the SOEs imposed last year “resulted in the most significant reduction in murders that we have achieved… the intent is to ensure that we had returned the communities declared, to a state wherein, regular policing can be successfully implemented.”
“It (SOE) will save lives. It has succeeded before. We have acted on the advice of the security forces and we do believe that the threshold required by the Constitution has been met,” she added.