State of Emergency Declared in Jamaica As Violence On Tourists Surge

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By The Grio

A state of emergency has been declared in Jamaica for St. James Parish. The area includes the popular tourist hotspot of Montego Bay after an increase in violent crime in the area.

On Thursday, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness sent the military into the area and released a statement.

 “I have been advised by the security forces, in writing, that the level of criminal activity experienced, continued and threatened, is of such a nature and so extensive in scale as to endanger public safety.”

According to Police Commissioner George Quallo there were 335 recorded murders in St. James in 2017 which is almost double any of the other parishes.

Now that the state of emergency has been declared in Jamaica people can be stopped at checkpoints throughout the area and be required to verify identity. They will also be asked to declare any weapons they may face searches of their person or vehicle.

Prime Minister Holness has stated that martial law will not take away all citizen’s rights.

“The declaration of a State of Public Emergency does not mean the suspension of the rule of law. The security forces are expected and have been directed to treat citizens with respect and protect the dignity and safety of all.”

The Prime Minister has asked citizens to come forward with any knowledge they may have of criminal activity since this state of emergency has been declared in Jamaica.

“Now is the time, if you know where the guns are, please tell us; if you know where the criminals are, please tell us,” Holness pleaded.

According to Jamaican media, there are some residents who are glad the military is getting involved and that the state of emergency has been declared in Jamaica.

“This is the best thing that could happen to Montego Bay at this time. It is like a belated Christmas gift,” an older resident of Salt Spring told the Jamaican Gleaner.

“Because of the shootings, I could not tell the last time me get to go a night service at my church. As night come, everybody have to just lockdown because of the crime.”

The day the state of emergency was declared in Jamaica, both the UK and Canada issued travel warnings to their citizens who are vacationing there. The US State Department has not updated its travel advisories at this time.

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