Wednesday, 21 February, 2018

Jamaican authorities declare state of emergency over crime

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Nellie Chapman | 21 January, 2018, 01:50

The parish of St James is the central focus of the national security apparatus because 335 murders were recorded there last year, and wanton, bloody atrocities associated with gang activities have continued there into this year. You should limit your movements outside of resorts in the area at this time, and exercise particular care if travelling at night.

It advised: "You should exercise caution if you are in the area".

There were six killings a week on average in St James last year while Jamaica has double the amount of murders as Britain each year.

In the most recent incident, a vehicle carrying three men and a child was sprayed with bullets in a drive-by shooting just yards from Sangster International Airport on Tuesday.

The statement reads: "Tourists should stay in their resorts and limit travel beyond their respective security perimeters".

Those who venture beyond should use transportation arranged by the resort and only use organized tour operators for excursions and travel.

Police said businesses and recreational areas are under a temporary curfew and the state of emergency allows them to search areas without a warrant. Miraculously, the child was unhurt.

Jamaican officials say they needed to impose a state of emergency in the area surrounding Montego Bay in order to control a spate of gang violence gripping the popular tourist destination that is endangering public safety.

"Local media have reported that a major military operation is underway in parts of St James".

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that the crackdown was being undertaken with the support of local tourism industry.

"This is a very worrying time for tourists caught up in this war on crime".

Holness said members of the security forces will have "extraordinary powers" and some rights are suspended.

A similar alert has been issued for British citizens traveling to Jamaica, while the United States has had one in place since January 10.

The country - which still has the death penalty - has been plagued by high rates of murder and violence.