State of Emergency 2?
Gov't not ruling out imposing another state of emergency as murders jump in the past 48 hours.
Gary Spaulding, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Jolted by what he has perceived as the swift reaction of criminal elements to the end of the limited state of emergency, National Security Minister Dwight Nelson will be huddling with senior security officers early this week.
Since the state of emergency ended midnight Thursday, the security forces have announced a menu of measures to clamp down on crime, but Nelson told The Sunday Gleaner that indications are that at least 12 persons were murdered up to yesterday.
This is cause for concern for Nelson, who told The Sunday Gleaner that the declaration of another state of emergency cannot be ruled out, given the indications that the guns have started to bark again.
"I am very concerned about the increase in the number of murders, particularly in areas of St Catherine, since Parliament failed to extend the state of emergency as requested by the army and the police," asserted Nelson.
Since the start of the year and up to July 18, St Catherine North has seen a 56 per cent jump in its murder rate. St Catherine South saw its murder rate climb by eight per cent over the same period.
"We will not allow the criminals to reign their terror on Jamaicans again. We have made some gains and we are determined that we will not lose them," he said.
"I will be engaging the law-enforcement agencies to discuss their strategic responses to this increase," he revealed, after news surfaced that six persons were killed between Friday night and early yesterday morning.
Four persons were also killed in Bog Walk, St Catherine, Thursday night.
Asked whether the impending meeting was likely to consider another state of emergency, Nelson said it was an option. "That is a matter that must be given serious consideration," he told The Sunday Gleaner.
But any such move is not likely to have the support of the parlia-mentary Opposition, which is adamant that it has seen nothing yet to warrant a state of emergency.
"I am not aware of any circumstance which would justify declaring another state of emer-gency," Opposition Spokesman on National Security Peter Bunting said.
"If the minister is not ruling out one, he must have information that he is not sharing with the Parliament, or the public, and certainly not with me. But I am not aware of anything that is in existence now that would justify that," added Bunting.
The Government's plan to extend the state of emergency was thwarted last week by the refusal of the parliamentary opposition members to support the resolution facilitating the extension.
With only 25 government members present at last Tuesday's sitting of the House of Rep-resentatives, at least six opposition members were required to vote in favour of its extension, but this was not to be, as all abstained.
The Opposition demanded a crime plan from the Government, arguing that the state of emergency could be treated as a tool to fight the scourge.
But with crime levels falling and criminal elements appearing to be retreating, the backlash was furious, with many influential Jamaicans launching stinging criticisms at the Parliament and the Opposition, in particular.
The murders committed over the past two days have not helped to appease infuriated Jamaicans.
Nelson supported the view that the end to the state of emergency has given criminals the impetus to make their move after being on the run for two months.
"There is no doubt in my mind that the end of the state of emergency has emboldened the criminals," Nelson said.
Human-rights groups and some prominent attorneys resisted the Government's plan to give in to the call from the security forces for the state of emergency to be extended, but the business community, as well as many ordinary Jamaicans rooted for a more protracted stay.
Murder Rate (Daily, Average and Total)
- 5.8 per day
- Total: 182
3 per day
- Total: 92
- July 1-18
2.4 per day
- Since July 18
4 per day
- Total murders year-to-date