Holness moves to counter overseas dons directing crime here
A Jamaica Defence Force soldier on duty at a checkpoint in Kingston established under a state of emergency. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

A few hours after announcing the reimposition of states of emergencies (SOEs) in six parishes, as well as specified areas of Kingston and St Andrew, in response to an increase in crime, Prime Minister Andrew left the island Tuesday for the United States in a bid to court more cooperation from law enforcers to disrupt gangsters there who, he said, are directing criminal activity in Jamaica.

"I leave the island today to head to Washington, DC, for, among other things, to start the process of getting a more intense cooperation in treating with the foreign actors in our local crimes — those dons who have migrated overseas," Holness said during a morning news conference at which he announced the SOEs.

He said that during the coming Christmas season those gangsters will be sending goods, such as bags of rice, to Jamaica. However, guns and ammunition will be wrapped in blankets and placed in those bags.

"They can't feel that they are free to influence, direct, solicit, and finance crime in Jamaica. So I head to Washington to have meetings with the Justice Department, the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigations], and other entities there, because I am serious," Holness said.

"If you are overseas and your sponsorship is directing, soliciting, and financing crime in Jamaica, we are going to get you," he added, repeating a warning he first issued at the 79th annual general conference of his ruling Jamaica Labour Party last month.

"We have a comprehensive plan to secure Jamaica, which will ensure a defence for Jamaica to any threat, and I want Jamaicans to be appreciative of what we are doing, because this situation didn't arise yesterday. It is 30 years in the making — 30 years of lack of investment and an unsophisticated approach to our national security," he said.

"Now, you have an Administration that appreciates and understands what national security is about. We are not only talking, we are putting the resources in place," he said.

Flanked by Chief of Defence Staff Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gorman, Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson, and National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang, Holness announced that the SOEs will run for two weeks and cover Kingston and St Andrew, except for police divisions in Central and Northern St Andrew, and fully cover the parishes of Clarendon, St Ann, St Catherine, St James, Westmoreland, and Hanover.

He explained the Emergency Powers Regulations that will be in effect for this new declaration, or for recent SOE declarations, are different from the regulations with which the court had taken issue.

"We have taken a lot of care and diligence to go through the various issues raised by the court and have made changes to address them...emergency powers have always been an executive tool and will only be used when the circumstances require them," he said and rebuffed arguments that the emergency powers and their use are unconstitutional.

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior Observer writer

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