Black Immigrant Daily News
Prime Minister, Andrew Holness has reiterated that the Government will continue to use states of emergency (SOEs) to combat the country’s worrying crime problem.
“As I’ve said in many presentations in Parliament, we will use this tool as long as there is a threat to life, property, and communities that are on so extensive a scale that it will deprive citizens of their rights and freedoms, and the situation is over and above the capacity of our regular law enforcement.
“That is the definition, built into the constitution, of the state of emergency,” said Holness.
He was speaking earlier this week at a Jamaica House media briefing where he announced that the Governor-General had declared another round of SOEs for eight parishes on the advice of the security chiefs.
Holness stressed that it does not have to be an exceptional situation that has happened for a SOE to be declared “because you have emergency situations that routinely occur”.
The prime minister noted that the attempt was made in the Crime Monitoring Oversight Committee (CMOC) “to say that if your murder rate; that is your murders per 100,000 exceeds 32 per 100,000 then the use of SOEs and other tools that are over and above regular policing and law enforcement would be justified”.
Holness insisted that this was the agreed benchmark that was signed to by the two political parties.
CMOC is an independent committee that comprises non-partisan stakeholders from the private sector, church, civil society, academia, and the political directorate. It was established in 2020 amid a worrying level of crime, especially murders, to help transform the country into a safe, secure, investment-friendly and just society by addressing crime, violence and corruption.
The 2020 CMOC Consensus outlined that, “We will support the use of the military, as permitted by law, in geographic areas where the homicide rate is above 32 per 100,000 (i.e., 2 times regional average), where the level of violence supersedes the capacity of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and the Commissioner of Police along with the Chief of Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force agree that it is necessary. We acknowledge that there should also be sustained public engagement on the use of such an intervention.”