Thursday 3 December, 2020

State of emergency extended

The State of Public Emergency in St James has been extended by three months until May 2. 

The extension followed a vote in the House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon, after a motion was moved by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Like he has repeatedly said, Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips gave his party’s “conditional support.”

The 51 Members of Parliament present, excluding House Speaker Pearnel Charles, all voted yes. Eleven MPs were absent.

In moving the motion under the Emergency Powers Act, the Prime Minister expressed satisfaction that the State of Emergency which was declared on January 18, was going well. He pointed to the arrest of wanted men and the seizure of 10 firearms, some of them high powered weapons. But he said now was not the time to get complacent.

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Regarding the performance of the security forces to date, Holness said: “They have executed their duties in a commendable way and are being meticulous and accountable in how they operate. Having visited the parish…all have been complimentary to the security forces that the way they have operated is a credit to Jamaica.”

Holness lauded the local media for giving fair coverage to the state of emergency, but noted that sections of the foreign media have painted a picture of a country in disarray.

“Jamaica is not in chaos, the country isn’t falling apart as some of the reports have been saying overseas,” Holness said.

Rather, the Prime Minister said “we have taken a deliberate, strategic, instrumental, well planned action to ensure that law and order and the rule of law is preserved.”

He appealed to Jamaicans in the Diaspora to “be our voices in the foreign countries to say that everything is ok here. That the Government has taken a step that is in support of law and order.”

For his part, Dr Phillips served notice that the opposition will not necessarily support another extension of the state of emergency in three months time. Like he did on Sunday when he addressed a National Executive Council meeting of the People’s National Party in Clarendon, Phillips again questioned why more was not done to address the crime problem in St James long before a State of Emergency was imposed.

“We on this side are prepared to support the resolution with the caveat that our support is not unlimited for all time and that we would hope that before another resolution comes to extend further… that we would have seen some clear cut plan that we could support that would give us confidence that the monster (of crime) is being brought under some long-term control,” Phillips said.

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