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State of Emergency in St. Catherine North extended until January

Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips and Prime Minister Andrew Holness
 
Despite its protestations, the Parliamentary Opposition voted Wednesday afternoon with the Government to extend the State of  Public Emergency in St. Catherine North by another three months.
 
On Tuesday, the Opposition had said it was not prepared to vote on the measure at such short notice and without certain information from the Government.
 
The debate was suspended and a sitting arranged for Wednesday afternoon, where Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips continued to express his concern about the continued extensions.
 
"An indefinite continuation of the situation is unhealthy to the economy, in the community; it is unhealthy to the relationship between the people and the security forces, and it is generally unhealthy to the range of rights that we have come to expect," he reasoned.  
 
Prime Minister Andrew Holness admitted it cannot be indefinite as such a continuous measure would begin to yield little results, however, he insisted it was necessary at this time. 
 
"What we don't want... is for the criminals to ever get in their minds that the government will not use extraordinary powers to address the threat that they pose," he asserted.   
 
The House eventually voted on the motion.
 
Forty-seven Members of Parliament voted 'yes' while 16 were absent.
 
The state of emergency in St. Catherine North will now be extended to January 2.
 
Reduction in murders and shootings
 
The Prime Minister Holness reported that the enhanced security arrangement has resulted in a dramatic reduction in murders and shootings in Spanish Town and other areas in St. Catherine.
 
"Since the intervention - that is over the period 18th of March to the 2nd of September, 2018 - the division has recorded 27 murders and 22 shootings. This amounts to a 68 per cent reduction in the collective number of murders and shootings over the period, when compared to the equivalent period of time prior to the state of emergency and the start of the year," he announced. 
 
Mr. Holness told the House of Representatives that following discussions with small business operators in Spanish Town and surrounding communities about the impact of the state of  emergency on their operations, the authorities are considering adjusting the nightly restrictions. 
 
He said Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang is to address the House on the new opening hours following a review by the security forces.
 
The current closing hour under the state of emergency is 8 p.m.
 
Fitz Jackson, Opposition Spokesman on National Security, on Wednesday suggested that it be moved to midnight.
 


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