(CMR) Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that a state of emergency has been imposed in St James days after the murder of two primary schoolboys in the western parish.
Justin Perry (7) and his nine-year-old schoolmate Nacholive Smith, of Chetwood Memorial Primary, and a man who remains unidentified, were shot and killed by gunmen while travelling in a taxi at around 6 p.m. Monday near Meggie Top in the Flower Hill area, Jamaica Gleaner reported.
“We will not wilt, we will not resile in the face of terror,” Holness said during a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House Wednesday morning, 8 November.
A six-year-old girl was also shot and killed on Friday, 3 November, after gunmen open fire on a group of people in St Andrew. Three people were killed in that attack.
The murders, especially of the children, have sparked national outrage with both citizens and political representatives calling for a state of emergency.
According to the Gleaner, states of emergency allow the security forces, or authorised persons, enhanced powers of search and arrest and limit the right of detained persons to due process. It will run for 14 days after which there must be Parliamentary approval for any extension.
Speaking this morning, Holness described the shooting of the schoolboys as “the worse of the worse”.
Holness said he was not trying to “stir up the nation into vengeance” but he said the country should “stop sending mixed signals to criminals.”
“They are not reasonable people, they are terrorists and they must be treated as such,” Holness added.
“They don't respect your human rights … if we have not yet realised that in the pursuit of their limited and narrow objectives, they are also pursuing the destruction of our state. This is not what is acceptable in a free and democratic society. Where will it end?,” he said.
On Tuesday, Holness called on Parliament to quickly pass legislation that will increase the penalty for murder.
“There are, before us, amendments to legislation, which will increase penalties for such criminal terrorists… . I urge the house to pass these amendments forthwith before the year is out,” he said.