A State of Public Emergency (SOE) has been declared for the entire parish of St. Catherine amid the recent upsurge in criminal activities.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness this morning (June 17) announced to the nation via a media conference that, acting on the advice of the security chiefs and under the constitution of Jamaica, the Governor-General His Excellency Sir Patrick Allen declared this State of Emergency which will be instituted for 14 days initially.
Prime Minister Holness stated that the Government will use all available means within the law and the constitution to protect the lives of innocent Jamaicans.
The Prime Minister said: “The main cause of violence that creates the kind of fear and terror that we are seeing in some communities, is the organized criminal activity of gangs and guns, and the young men in particular that they recruit. The Government of Jamaica has to act. The Government of Jamaica cannot sit back and see innocent Jamaicans going about their business on their way to work or from the market and having to be scurrying for their lives.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, the Hon. Dr. Horace Chang also noted that the necessary laws to remove these violence producers are within the State of Public Emergency.
Dr. Chang said: “The violence producers in this area need to be removed immediately to restore order and public safety. The security forces will find the violence producers. We know where they are. We will apprehend them and restore calm and public order. The Ministry of National Security will provide the required support for the police force, and we will provide the resources to remove these murderers and violence producers within the community.”
In the meantime, Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson said the high level of violence experienced within the parish of St. Catherine over the past two months has risen to a scale and nature that greatly endangers public safety.
The Commissioner of Police stated: “We have seen the data and have demonstrated through previous SOEs that this methodology has been very effective in quickly reducing violent crimes. An SOE at this time will allow us the opportunity to optimize available resources, in particular, the support from the JDF. As we advance the strategies to reduce crime and violence across all police divisions, we continue our focus on gangs, guns and gunmen.”
In this regard, both the JCF and JDF will be conducting a suite of operations which will see the increased presence of the security forces within the boundaries of the SOE.
And, the Chief of Defence Staff- Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gorman noted: “While we acknowledge that people may be concerned about the implications of the internal security operations that occur under a State of Public Emergency, citizens can be assured that the JDF will operate within the parameters of their training and resources to ensure the protection of the human rights of all Jamaicans.”
In the meantime, members of the public and residents of the parish can assist by complying with the security officers at checkpoints, adhering to the curfew guidelines and notifying the JCF and JDF of any breaches of professional conduct by members.
The public is encouraged that contact the tip lines at 811, 119 or 311.
Boundaries of the St. Catherine State of Public Emergency are:
North: St. Ann and St. Mary parish boundaries
East: St. Andrew parish boundary
South: St. Catherine coastline
West: Clarendon parish boundary