JIS News

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  • Members of the Senate have approved the continuation of States of Public Emergency (SOEs) in six parishes for another 90 days.
  • Three Emergency Powers Resolutions, which give effect to the extension of the SOEs in St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland, Clarendon, St. Catherine and St. Andrew, received the support of both Government and Opposition Senators during a special sitting on Thursday (January 30).
  • Following an extensive debate, all members present voted, which resulted in 15 Senators agreeing to the Resolutions; one voting against; and one abstaining. Four Senators were absent.

Members of the Senate have approved the continuation of States of Public Emergency (SOEs) in six parishes for another 90 days.

Three Emergency Powers Resolutions, which give effect to the extension of the SOEs in St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland, Clarendon, St. Catherine and St. Andrew, received the support of both Government and Opposition Senators during a special sitting on Thursday (January 30).

Following an extensive debate, all members present voted, which resulted in 15 Senators agreeing to the Resolutions; one voting against; and one abstaining. Four Senators were absent.

Piloting the Resolutions, Leader of Government Business in the Upper House, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, argued that continuation of the SOEs is necessary “to secure the peace, safety and protection of the people of Jamaica”.

She noted that while some success had been achieved in reducing the overall murder rate for 2019, this has been overshadowed by “adhoc periods of ruthlessness perpetrated by organised gangs engaged in reprisal behavior”.

“We have also been impacted by horrendous examples of domestic violence and intimate partner violence,” Senator Johnson Smith said.

She emphasised that given the work that still remains to be done, the emergency levels of violent crime and criminal activity, and organised gang activities in those areas, “we are seeking the extension of the SOEs”.

The Resolutions are the Emergency Powers, 2019 (Continuance) Resolution, 2020 pertaining to St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland; the Emergency Powers (No. 2), 2019 (Continuance) Resolution, 2020 in relation to St. Andrew South; and the Emergency Powers (No. 3), 2019 (Continuance) Resolution, 2020 regarding Clarendon and St. Catherine North.

The SOEs for St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland, which were declared on April 30, 2019 and were scheduled to end on February 27, 2020, have been extended to May, 28, 2020.

The Clarendon and St. Catherine North SOEs, declared on September 5, 2019, which were slated to end on February 18, 2020, will continue until May 19, 2020.

Also, the SOE for St. Andrew South, which was declared on July 7, 2019, and was to have ended on February 4, will run until May 5, 2020.

The extensions were approved by the House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 28).

An SOE, declared on Sunday (January 26) is also in effect for the Eastern Kingston Police Division.

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 the power to stop and question persons, seize property, and control public gatherings and movements.

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