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Jamaica has declared a State of Emergency order across nine of its 14 parishes in an effort to combat violent crimes. Prime Minister Andrew Holness issued the order in a public address on Wednesday (Dec. 7) ahead of the holiday season, stating that glaring issues are ramping up across the island nation.

Prime Minister Holmes spoke at a press conference at his office in St. Andrew on Tuesday (Dec. 6) and made the States of Public Emergency (SOE) announcement but the order does not extend across the entire island.

From the Jamaica Information Service website:

The Prime Minister said that the Government will continue to build the capacity of the security forces to respond to threats of violence.

He said that the tactical effectiveness and efficiency of the police force has improved, and intelligence is being used to nab the criminals at the point at which they are planning or committing crimes.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said that while emergency powers are an important part of any society, the Government has no intention of abusing these powers.

He noted that in the various iterations of the SOEs “we have improved the regulations taking into consideration the public debate, the arguments put forward by our courts, which we welcome. It has helped to refine the measure as it is provided for in the Constitution”.

Mr. Holness said that “we have some really serious criminal threats facing us and we have to use all the powers at our disposal”.

“I believe Jamaica understands that while the Government is trying to improve the legislative framework and the capacity of our police to be able to execute their jobs with greater technology, greater efficiency, greater training, we have to ensure that our homicide rate and the level of violence that citizens experience on a daily basis do not get to the point where it threatens the collapse of the State.”

The order extends to the parishes of St. Ann, Clarendon, and St. Catherine, specified areas in Kingston, and St. Andrew, St. James, Westmoreland, and Hanover. An SOE was enacted in portions of the island last month as well.

Photo: Jodi Jacobson / Getty