Extend state of emergency to entire island
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Government has done the right thing in declaring a state of public emergency in the parish of St James. I believe, however, that to give full effect to the crime-fighting efforts being made, the state of public emergency should have been declared for the entire country of Jamaica.
The purpose of the state of public emergency is to confer on members of the security for, especially the army, additional powers to stop and search, to stop and question, and to enter premises without a warrant.
It is now accepted that the vast majority of persons carry illegal firearms and commiting offences with these firearms are very mobile and are smart enough to know that they should relocate from St James to other parishes where there is no state of emergency.
The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) has a very reliable intelligence apparatus. The JDF has a fairly good connection with just about all the parishes in Jamaica. A state of public emergency throughout the country will make it easier for the security forces to respond to intelligence received in any parish and carry out their operation with similar authority and protection as that given to them in St James.
It is obvious that the delay in calling the state of public emergency in St James was due to the fear the Government has of the possible effect of a state of public emergency on the tourist industry. It is a justifiable fear and there is bound to be a negative effect.
However, if the state of public emergency is used effectively and if it results in reduction in crime, within a short period of time, the tourist industry will rebound from whatever negative effects the declaration initially had.
Let us not go at the problem of crime in a piecemeal fashion. With five homicides per day, Jamaica sounds like a country at war. The Government should, therefore, go on a war footing against the perpetrators of the heinous crimes being committed. There is no other choice and there should be no hesitation and no compromise.
It is for this reason that the powers given to the security forces in the parish of St James should be extended and given to security forces in all parishes by declaring the state of emergency for the entire island.
LINTON P. GORDON
Ocho Rios, St Ann