Speech by the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Holness Declaration Of a State of Public Emergency In St Catherine North


A state of public emergency has been declared in the St Catherine North Police Division effective Sunday March 18. These enhanced security measures through the Emergency Powers Act will last initially for fourteen [14] days. Crime and violence in particular murders have been escalating in this police division.

The security forces have advised me, as Prime Minister, in writing that a high level of criminal activity continues and threatens public order and the rule of law, this threat is extensive.

The governor general signed a proclamation under the Emergency Powers Act to bring into effect these enhanced security measures. The proclamation has also been gazetted.

Under the enhanced security measures, the security forces will have extra ordinary powers and some rights will be suspended. This does not mean that the use of these extraordinary powers can be arbitrary or are beyond review.

The security forces are expected and have been directed to treat citizens with respect and to protect the dignity and safety of all Jamaicans. The security forces will have the power to search, curtail operating hours of businesses, access to places and to detain persons without a warrant.

All persons using all roadways leading into and out of the St Catherine North area will be subject to vehicle and personal search. In various areas, there will be joint static and mobile patrols. Persons may also be stopped at various checkpoints. As stipulated under the Emergency Powers Act, the Emergency Powers Review Tribunal will be shortly named.

I will address the parliament at the earliest opportunity on this declaration.