Sat | Jan 25, 2020

One month only for SOE extensions

Published:Wednesday | December 11, 2019 | 12:45 AM

The House of Representatives yesterday voted to extend the states of public emergency (SOEs) in five parishes along with the St Andrew South Police Division for only 30 days. This extension comes even as the parliamentary Opposition refused to grant the Government a 90-day extension as was first requested.

At the same time, members of the Lower House also voted to extend the zones of special operations (ZOSOs) in Denham Town, Kingston, and Mount Salem in St James.

At least 42 lawmakers gave the security measures the nod.

States of emergency have been extended for a month in Clarendon, St Catherine, Westmoreland, Hanover, and St James.

In his contribution to the debate, Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang defended the Government’s decision to extend the SOEs. He indicated that any discontinuation of the security measures at this time would result in a reversal of the gains made.

Chang stressed that the interventions are necessary to complement other security initiatives implemented to tackle crime in these areas.

However, Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips charged that despite two years of SOEs, the country was still seeing an overall increase in murders in 2019 when compared with last year.

“The sombre fact is that up to the 7th of December, 27 more Jamaicans have been murdered than the year before, with extended SOEs,” he said.

Opposition Spokesman on National Security Fitz Jackson urged Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke to allocate the $6 million needed by the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) to carry out its violence interruption interventions for the remainder of the fiscal year.

He said the PMI’s work is expected to come to a halt by the end of this month owing to a lack of resources.

In September, Chang told a Violence Prevention and Peace Building Symposium in Montego Bay that churches, PMI, the Citizen Security and Justice Programme have done a lot of good things, but have failed to effect transformation in the Second City.