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Readers welcome St James SOE but question timing

Thursday, January 18, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Prime Minister Andrew Holness' declaration of a state of public emergency for the parish of St James has been a hot topic among OBSERVER ONLINE readers, who have given varying views on this latest attempt to arrest the crime wave.

Holness made the announcement this afternoon at a Jamaica House press conference, after members of the Jamaica Defence Force launched their operations in sections of the parish this morning.

Read: Holness says tourism stakeholders in support of state of emergency in St James

The move has been met with mixed reactions, as, while many people welcomed the announcement, others questioned the timing and suggested that it was a knee-jerk reaction to the level-two travel advisory that the United States issued last week for the island — particularly sections of St Catherine, Kingston and St James.

Meanwhile, others questioned the location and suggested that other parishes such as Hanover and Clarendon be placed under a state of emergency as well.

Below are some of the comments from readers:

Darmic3: The situation doesn't required limited anything. We need a full-blown, nationwide state of emergency and declaration of martial law. A full fumigation of all two-footed pests and nuisances. We have to eradicate fully, all two-footed Black Widow Spiders and Africanised Bees that been terrorising the country.

Lindel Mc Cormak: absolutely [a] nonsensical approach to the crime monster. The impression is given that the government is either in denial or they have no desire to take this crime wave head on. Wonder who are they protecting?”

Simon Green: Lol look at y'all clinging to false hope? Y'all think this is your salvation? What you think gonna happen when the JDF gone back to camp?

Collin E Bennett: Looking at the parish of St James and how it aligns with Trelawny, Hanover and Westmoreland. This cannot be effective. The gunmen will escape to the neighbouring parishes. Am sure by now they are all in other parishes drinking beers.

Nardia Ford-Dixon: Look how long Jamaica people a dead like dog and we have been crying out for something like this. But did the government had to wait on the US to force them to take this action what happen Jamaica people cry no matter anymore. Anyways thanks for starting to do something.

Hugh Oliver: Putting our toe in the water. Timid. Guess we name the streets and towns do the criminals know where they should not go. Let's get serious and stop playing games.

A more optimistic user, Speak up, said this year should be the year of changes. “We need good changes. We need changes that are productive for all Jamaicans and I think what is happening in Montego Bay is a good move, let's all pray it work out for the best and the good of all that is being affected by this crime monster.

And, Golfrey Gego Rhoden: Great work prime minister. I hope there will be some great results. We need peace on this blessed island.

Last year, some 335 murders were recorded in St James and at least four people have been murdered in that western parish since the start of the year.

There have also been several reports of shootings in the parish. In the latest incidents on Tuesday, two men were murdered while two others were left in critical condition after separate gun attacks

Read: Gunmen kill two men in St James, injure two others

This morning several sections of St James were saturated with members of the Jamaica Defence Force, as they searched properties and people in what was initially thought to be a limited state of emergency in the parish.

Among the affected areas were King Street, Cottage Road, Rose Heights, Cambridge, Norwood and the Trelawny–St James border.

A state of emergency according to Section 26 of the Constitution is a "period of public emergency" during which:

a. Jamaica is engaged in any war
b. There is in force a proclamation by the governor general declaring that a state of public emergency exists
c. There is in force a resolution of each House supported by the votes of a majority of all the members of that House declaring that democratic institutions in Jamaica are threatened by subversion.

It can be declared when a state of war between Jamaica and a foreign state is imminent; as a result of the occurrence of any earthquake, hurricane, flood, fire, outbreak of pestilence, outbreak of infectious disease, or other calamity and when action has been taken or is immediately threatened by any person an such an extensive scale it could likely endanger the public safety or deprive the community, or any substantial portion of the community of supplies or services essential to life.

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