States of emergency set to end on Monday ahead of Nomination Day
The states of emergency (SOE) that have been in force in six parishes and several police divisions across the country are to come to an end today, Monday, August 17, ahead of Nomination Day on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness who used the SOEs as a major plank of the Government’s crime-fighting arsenal, announced the revocation of the emergency measures last Tuesday as he announced September 3 as the date of the general election. He had previously committed to not have the election while the SOEs are in force.
National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang has said that with lack of incriminating evidence against them, SOE detainees should be released. Where evidence exists, Chang expects the police to charge the detainees.
Meanwhile, Opposition Spokesman on National Security Fitz Jackson is urging the security forces to maintain a strong level of vigilance in communities following the end of the SOEs.
Jackson said while he welcomed the end of the SOEs, the security forces must now increase their levels of engagement in the affected communities, to ensure the continued security and protection of residents.
“Many of the communities which were placed under the SOEs were already pre-disposed to gang warfare, violent activities and varying levels of criminality,” said Jackson.
“It is for this reason that the commissioner of police, the Police High Command and the chief of defence staff must ensure that these communities continue to benefit from the strategic deployment and presence of security personnel,” Jackson added.
He argued that during the life of the SOEs, the country witnessed instances of violent crimes taking place within the precincts of the security measures.
“It is critical in this period of a general election that our citizens are allowed the freedom to express themselves and maintain their confidence in the democratic process of casting their votes without fear of intimidation or outright attacks,” Jackson said.
He added: “We have witnessed in the past, episodes of political intimidation and coercion affecting an entire community. The security forces must not participate or allow anyone or group of individuals to threaten the democratic right of our citizens.”
He further argued that the end of these extraordinary measures brought on by the SOEs does not mean the end of securing and protecting our citizens.
“In fact, the Jamaican state should do more now to reassure the citizenry of its capacity to maintain law and order and creating an environment for peaceful coexistence among residents and communities."