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GG Sir Patrick Allen —

THE first 14 days of the current state of public emergency in St James expires on Thursday, but the House of Representatives is expected to extend the emergency measure when it meets at Gordon House today.

The emergency was effected on January 18 by way of a proclamation issued by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.

Parliament can extend the emergency for a longer period of up to three months as both the House of Representatives and the Senate “may determine by a resolution supported by a two-thirds majority of each House”.

This means that, in addition to the debate in the House of Representatives today, the Senate will have to meet by Thursday if it is to approve an extension of the state of emergency, which would begin right after midnight Thursday. This will depend on the House of Representatives’ approval of the extension, which will be piloted today by the prime minister.

Both the Government and Opposition are apparently in agreement for an extension to state of emergency on the basis that:

“Action has been taken or is immediately threatened by any person, or body of persons of such nature and so extensive a scale as to be likely to endanger the public safety or to deprive the community, or any substantial portion of the community, of supplies or services essential to life.”

In announcing the declaration of the state of emergency at Jamaica House on January 18, Prime Minister Andrew Holness noted that crime and violence, in particular, have been escalating in the parish of St James, which had 335 homicides last year.


Under the state of emergency, the security forces have the power to search, curtail operating hours of business, access to places, and to detain persons without a warrant.

In addition, people using roads leading in and out of St James are subject to vehicle and personal search. In various areas of city and township there are joint static and mobile patrol. Persons may also be stopped at various checkpoints.

“But this does not mean that use of these extraordinary powers can be arbitrary or are beyond review. The security forces are expected and have been directed to treat citizens with respect and protect the dignity and safety of all,” Holness said when he announced the the emergency measures earlier this month.

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