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Jamaica: St James parish state of emergency extended

PICTURED: Andrew Holness

JAMAICA'S HOUSE of Representatives on Tuesday (May 2) voted to extend the state of emergency in St James for an additional three months until August 2, Loop Jamaica reports.

This is the third extension of the emergency measure that was first imposed in the parish for an initial two weeks on January 18. It was subsequently extended until May 3 and has now been further extended for an additional 90 days.

The extension, received full bipartisan support.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness gained support for the extension after pointing out the significant reduction in murders in the parish this year when compared to last year. However, he also stressed that more than 30 criminal gangs were operating in the space and that more time was needed to deal with them.

In making the case for the extension, newly-appointed National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang noted that the gangs in St James had a different profile than those operating elsewhere in the country. He described them as having money, independence and motor cars.

“They have money. They are rich, they have independence,” Chang told the House. He said this gave them the ability to purchase numerous rounds of ammunition as was exhibited during Saturday's hours-long shootout between members of the security forces and St James’ most wanted, Nico ‘Bowza’ Samuels.

According to LoopJamaica.com, the security minister also noted that while Jamaica had a homicide rate of 59 per 100,000 in 2017, Montego Bay's 150 per 100,000 murder rate in 2017 was “the highest anywhere in the world.” That would make it much worse than a war zone, Chang argued.

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