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Jamaica renews regional states of emergency due to gang violence

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness renewed states of emergency in eight parishes on Wednesday to control an ongoing threat of crime linked to gang activity in the Caribbean nation.

Holness on Nov. 15 had announced regional states of emergency, which allow authorities to search buildings and arrest citizens without a warrant.

“While we have had reasonable success in controlling the number of murders leading up to and during the Christmas season, the threat levels for ongoing gang conflicts … (remain) elevated and extensive in scale,” Holness said in a press conference.

Police Commissioner Antony Anderson told the same press conference that Jamaica recorded an average of nearly five murders per day in September.

The previous states of emergency, as well as new firearms legislation, have caused violent crime to decline, he said. There were 1,463 murders in Jamaica in 2021, with gang activity accounting for 71% of these, according to official data.

Jamaica’s Supreme Court ruled in June that authorities violated the rights of a man who said he was arbitrarily arrested during a state of public emergency and then held in detention for months without a trial.

The country has one of the highest murder rates in the region.

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