Lawyer calls for State of Emergency

February 08, 2017
These females were seen holding placards to protest the killing of women and girls.

With the Andrew Holness-led Cabinet now plotting its response to a dramatic increase in serious crimes, especially murders, an attorney-at-law has suggested that the government declares a State of Emergency.

Robert Collie, whose father Dr Charlton Collie unsuccessfully contested parliamentary elections on the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) ticket, said the increase in murder calls for drastic measures.

IN PHOTO: Robert Collie

"A state of emergency is inevitable. A 40 per cent increase in murders must be dealt with decisively," Collie said in a Facebook post.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Tuesday convened a meeting of the National Security Council to address the national crime situation.

According to a media release from the Office of the Prime Minister, the meeting did an assessment of the current trends, including crimes against women and children.

The National Security Council has made certain recommendations for the consideration and approval of Cabinet, which will meet today to decide on a set of anti-crime measures.

The Holness-led Government signalled last year that it was prepared to implement drastic measures to stem the wave of crime on the island. Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte, in her contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament  last July, said that some "fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed to Jamaicans may have to be abrogated, abridged or infringed".

Two months later, Holness said that the declaration of a State of Emergency was not something he was not on his agenda at the time.

“The Government is not afraid to call a State of Emergency but at this point, a State of Emergency, in my mind, is not a tool that needs to be deployed. I think the police force has the capacity, our army has the capacity…I think with the other strategies and plans we have in place, we will be improving the capacity of the police and the army to respond,”  Holness said last September.

The Prime Minister, however, said the government would be keeping that option open.

IN PHOTO: Prime Minister Andrew Holness

“If the Government deems it necessary, we will, but we are not at that point so I don’t want criminals to feel that we have any hesitation if it is required. Jamaica is a functioning state, we do have elevated levels of crime…It is associated with the phase of development that we find ourselves in. The truth is that much of our crimes is driven by economic motives,” Holness said last year.