SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico ( Associated Press) — Jamaica’s prime minister declared a general state of emergency Tuesday to combat a surge in gang violence on an island that has one of the highest homicide rates in the region.
The announcement covers some communities in the capital Kingston as well as six of Jamaica’s 14 jurisdictions, including those that are home to popular tourist destinations such as Montego Bay.
The state of emergency allows authorities to arrest people and search buildings without the need for a search warrant, drawing criticism from political opponents and activists who have called for an end to police abuses and mass arrests that occurred under prior states of exception. has called for.
Similar measures have recently been implemented in El Salvador and Honduras.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness dismissed the criticism, saying his priority was to save lives.
“It’s the only thing the government is trying to do,” he said, adding that Jamaicans “have to hide under their beds, hide their daughters, they can’t go to church and they can’t see their sons and daughters.” Killing their lovers and seeing husbands.” , That’s the reality”
A spokesman for the Jamaican police force told The Associated Press that the island, which has a population of 2.8 million, has recorded 1,421 murders so far this year, up from 1,375 recorded in the same period last year.
Jamaica’s population is comparable to that of the US city of Chicago, which has recorded 643 murders this year.
“We are facing very serious criminal threats and we have to use all the powers at our disposal,” Holness said.
Most murders in Jamaica are attributed to gangs known as “squads” that are linked to certain major political parties and that use extortion, drug trafficking and lottery scams to finance their activities. Let’s use.