The Most Honourable Andrew Holness ON, MP
Prime Minister of Jamaica
State of Emergency Press Conference: Montego Bay
January 18, 2018
We are all aware and agree crime and violence in particular murders have been escalating in the parish of St James. I have been advised by the security forces in writing that the level of criminal activity experienced continued and threatened is of such a nature and so extensive in scale as to endanger public safety. In consideration of this, I wrote to the governor general recommending the declaration of a state of public emergency for the parish of St James.
The governor general has signed a proclamation dated and effective 18th January 2018. The proclamation has been gazetted a state of emergency is now in effect for the parish of St James.
Under a state of emergency, the security forces will have extra ordinary powers and some rights are suspended. This does not mean that the use of these extra ordinary powers can be arbitrary or are beyond review.
The declaration of a state of public emergency does not mean the suspension of the rule of law. The security forces are expected and have been directed to treat citizens with respect and protect the dignity and safety of all. Clearly, the operations, which will be conducted though, directed at criminals and their facilitators and I want to repeat that. The facilitators of criminals will create some level of general discomfort, we ask the public to cooperate with the security forces. Now is time, if you know where the guns are please tell us. If you know here the criminals are, please tell us. The Reward for Guns Programme is still in effect. The numbers to call is Crime Stop 311 or call the security forces hotline 830-8888.
As as always been the stance of the government, we will continue with a credible process of communicating with the public. We ask the press and the public to be understanding of the sensitivities of this matter. Again, a state of public emergency is in effect for the parish of St James.