State of Emergency extended for three months

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Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved a resolution put forward by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to extend the state of public emergency in St James.

The resolution, which falls under the Emergency Powers Act, also includes the suspension of the standing orders to enable the resolution to be taken through all its stages

Fifty-one of the members voted in favour of the motion being carried, which was more than the two-thirds majority needed by the house. Eleven members were absent.

In addition to the debate in the House of Representatives today, the Senate will now have to meet by Thursday if it is to approve (also by two-thirds majority) the extension of the state of emergency, which would begin right after midnight Thursday and last until May 2.

Holness informed that 10 guns have been retrieved, while 51 persons have been arrested and charged since the state of emergency was announced and declared on January 18.

In announcing the state of emergency at Jamaica House, Holness noted that crime and violence, in particular, have been escalating in the parish of St James, which had 335 homicides last year.

Under the state of emergency, the security forces have the power to search, curtail operating hours of business, access to places, and to detain persons without a warrant.

In addition, people using roads leading in and out of St James are subject to vehicle and personal search. In various areas of city and township, there are joint static and mobile patrols. Persons may also be stopped at various checkpoints.

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