JAMAICA | State of Emergency not working says Opposition -38 murders in first week

JAMAICA | State of Emergency not working says Opposition -38 murders in first week

KINGSTON, Jamaica- November 22, 2021 -  Opposition Shadow Minister of National Security, Senator Peter Bunting has urged the Government to abandon its use of States of Emergency (SOEs) as a routine crime fighting measure.

The Senator’s comments come after the release of the latest JCF Serious and Violent Crimes Review, which revealed that during the first week of the State of Emergency, the murder rate accelerated with 38 murders occurring across Jamaica for the week ending November 20, 2021.

Opposition spokesman on national security, Senator Peter BuntingOpposition spokesman on national security, Senator Peter BuntingThis represents a rate that is 37% higher than the average weekly number of murders (27.7) since the start of the year. There have been 1,288 murders year-to-date, an increase of 128 (11%) relative to the same period last year.

“It appears that even the initial reductions from the ‘shock and awe’ effect of the declaration of the SOEs, that occurred with previous declarations, has not worked this time around,” said the Senator.

Bunting expressed that the JCF rank and file personnel are obviously demoralized and demotivated, and feel that their employers have given them a 'basket to carry water’. He said, “In Westmoreland, for example, the Prime Minister acknowledged the shortage of police personnel in the crime plagued parish.  

However, instead of providing more police personnel, the government has only provided military personnel who are limited to patrol and man checkpoints.” It is important to note that even during SOEs soldiers cannot do the investigative work necessary to get criminal convictions.

The Opposition fully supports the deployment of military personnel to assist the police whenever there is a level of violence that requires saturation policing as a response. This is however already provided for in ordinary legislation and does not require the declaration of a State of Emergency. 

Senator Bunting reiterates, “This Government’s serial use of States of Emergency as a crime fighting tool is both unconstitutional and ineffective. This shallow PR gesture is an attempt to camouflage the Holness administration’s failure to address violent crime, and the causes of crime.”

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