Ten people were killed in one night alone this weekend in Jamaica, one in the parish of St James, where residents are living under a declared state of emergency in Jamaica due to escalating gang and gun violence.
One Bermudian living in Montego Bay said more than 200 people had been arrested up to last Tuesday.
Marion Robinson, who lives on Montego Bay’s North coast, is part-owner of Bar Car Wash.
She moved to Jamaica in 1994, and has travelled back and forth to Bermuda ever since.
But now that she’s getting older, she said: “I’m getting too old to be going back and forth, now that I have residency in Jamaica.”
Now one of many living under a state of emergency, she told Bermuda Real this morning: “Ten people were killed between Friday night and Saturday morning, only one in Montego Bay.
“So the crime is still here no matter what – police can’t stop crime,” she added.
Asked what it’s like living under a state of emergency, she replied: “Nothing’s different except there’s more police and soldiers on the streets doing what they should have been doing all this time – working!
“And the innocent always have to suffer for the guilty. Businesses have to lock down early in the tow, so there’s no vendors after 6pm.
“Grocery shops close early and the bars close at 10pm. So everyone is losing in business, which is not good at all.”
Asked what the locals are saying about the current state of affairs in their country, she said: “People are upset right now because there’s no bail, no visits, no contact with lawyers for people in custody since this started.
“As for tourists, they are still coming in everyday no matter what. My place is right on the highway so I see the bus loads of tourists arriving in Jamaica everyday.”
On Wednesday, January 24, 2018, the Gleaner published a report under the headline ‘Peace at Last – But Parents Worry About Teens Detained Under State of Emergency’, by News Editor Adrian Frater.
The report stated: “While most residents of St James are now seeing real peace for the first time in quite a while as a result of the ongoing state of public emergency in the parish, others are not enjoying the tranquility, as they are worried about the tardiness in processing relatives detained by security forces.”
The article also quotes “veteran Montego Bay-based reggae singer Donald ‘Jah Saint’ Palmer”, who said: “They picked up my 17-year-old son from last Saturday and I have not been able to get any information on him since because we are not being allowed any visits.
“My son is not a criminal; he is a student at the Spot Valley High School, where he represents the school’s football team.
“I understand they are holding him at the lock-up at the Barrett Town Police Station and my information is that there is no water at the police station. It means he has not had a bath or change of clothes since Saturday. While I do support the state of emergency in principle, they need to have a system in place to quickly process the detainees so that innocent people don’t suffer unnecessarily.”
The article continued: “Since the state of emergency was declared last week amid wanton lawlessness, which had transformed the parish into the nation’s murder capital, two rifles, one handgun and a quantity of ammunition have been seized by the security forces.
“A total of 197 persons, including some eight persons who have since been implicated in several murders, have been detained in various operations.
“However, as a result of the concerns being raised about the slowness in processing detainees and reports about the poor conditions at locations such as the Freeport and Barrett Town police lock-ups, where many are being held, Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry yesterday indicated that a team from her office would be visiting Montego Bay to get a first-hand look at the situation.
“The Legal Aid Council and the Cornwall Bar Association (CBA) are also raising concerns about the reported challenges they are facing in getting information on detainees so that they can be provided with the requisite legal representation. Some 23 legal aid attorneys and six senior lawyers have been assigned to work with the detainees.”
Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared a state of emergency for the parish of St James last week, where 335 murders have been committed during the past year.
- Feature Photo by Adrian Frater, News Editor, The Gleaner, of a young man being taken into custody in St James under state of public emergency