Members of the Senate this afternoon, September 21, voted to extend the State of Public Emergency in the St. Catherine North Police Division for another three months.
This follows approval of the Emergency Powers (No. 2) (Continuance) (No.3) Resolution, 2018, during today’s sitting of the Senate. The House approved the same resolution on Wednesday.
The measure, which was slated to end on October 2, will now remain in place until January 2, 2019. Nineteen of the 21 members of the Senate were present and voted for the resolution.
Addressing the Senate, Leader of Government Business and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, said the enhanced security measures in the St. Catherine North Police Division have proven to be a highly effective tool in the fight against crime.
“The effectiveness of the State of Emergency is undisputed. Since this year, in fact up to September 19 and particularly since the declaration of the State of Public Emergency, St. Catherine North Division has experienced a 21.2 [per cent] reduction in the number of murders and a 35.5 [per cent] reduction in shootings, when compared to the same period in 2017,” the Minister said.
The Minister also noted that the national murder rate has declined by 20.2 per cent as at September 19, adding that thefigure was impacted by the successes of the state of emergency.
The Minister said the request for a further extension was based on the recommendation of the security forces and is necessary to satisfy the short- to medium-term objectives of a secure Jamaica. She expressed similar sentiments to those of Prime Minister Andrew Holness when he sought the approval of the House of Representatives Wednesday. He said it was no time to give criminals a sense of division and a lack of will among the political leadership in securing the gains realized.
She repeated the Prime Minister’s commitment that a consideration would be given to extending the opening hours of businesses in the face of complaints from business leaders.
The Resolution was approved in the House of Representatives on September 19.
By Franklin McKnight