The Jamaican Parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew are currently under a state of public emergency. This follows a statement today by Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who is the representative of the contentious Tivoli Gardens area, which is within the Kingston parish.
This afternoon, the Cabinet, in emergency session, took the decision to advise the Governor-General to issue a proclamation declaring a state of public emergency for the Corporate Area effective 6.00 PM today.
Since this morning, violent, orchestrated attacks have been launched on a number of police stations. Two members of the security forces have been shot and injured. Orchestrated attacks by gunmen on police who were trying to clear roadblocks have taken place. One civilian has also been killed.
The state of emergency will enable the security forces to exercise extraordinary powers necessary to deal with this extraordinary situation. These include the power to restrict the freedom of movement, search premises and detain persons suspected of involvement in unlawful activities without warrant. These are necessary measures to restore order to a community that is now threatened.
With immediate effect, the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) is withdrawing its service to and from downtown Kingston, due to the unstable security situation existing in the area, and a looming state of emergency there.
Security forces in Jamaica are appealing to the law abiding residents of Tivoli Gardens and Denham Town who wish to leave those communities to do so by way of Industrial Terrace towards Marcus Garvey Drive where buses will be available to transport them to accommodation established by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).
Those persons opting to be evacuated are being asked, if possible, to bring only medication along with them.
Opposition on State of Public Emergency
In a letter to Prime Minister Bruce Golding leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, Opposition leader Portia Simpson Miller said her party the People's National Party alarmed that no curfew was imposed in any of those areas while breaches of the public order were allowed to escalate. She, however, urge that the state of public emergency be rescinded once the immediate threat to public security has been removed.
The STATE OF PUBLIC EMERGENCY follows on the heels of protest by Tivoli Garden residents against the extradition orders for Don Christopher "Dudus" Coke.
In 2007 Jamaica underwent such a State of Emergency during a fiercely contested general election when Portia Simpson Miller was prime minister.