Sunday 16 June, 2019

House to debate state of emergency extension today

Members of Parliament will on Wednesday afternoon take another shot at debating an extension to the state of emergency in the St Catherine North division.

The debate became necessary after Tuesday’s aborted debate during the first sitting of the House of Representatives following the summer recess.

The parliamentary Opposition objected to a debate on Tuesday, citing the short notice given by the Government side.

The emergency measure was first implemented in the violence-plagued St Catherine North on March 18 and has since been extended twice. The current extension expires on October 2. St Catherine North includes Spanish Town communities such as Dela-Vega City, Tawes Pen, Gordon Pen, Shelter Rock, Thompson Pen and as far away as Linstead.

The state of emergency was imposed following an upsurge in crime including murders and extortion which the authorities said was fuelled by infighting among members of the notorious Clansman gang.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips had asked for a postponement of the debate on the resolution to extend the state of emergency, as well as the resolution to extend the Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) in Denham Town until next week.

However, it was eventually agreed to suspend the debate to extend the state of emergency until Wednesday while the House debated and approvd the extension to the West Kingston ZOSO despite charges by Opposition MPs that resources were being taken from some communities to sustain the efforts of the emergency measures thus fuelling an upsurge in crime elsewhere in the island.

However, Prime Minister Andrew Holness countered by pointing out that there has been 245 fewer murders recorded this year when compared to the corresponding period in 2017 in large part due to the emergency measures.

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