The Caribbean island of Jamaica has declared a state of emergency following a streak of violence that has affected the whole island, including tourist areas.
In a statement this week, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the country of the “serious criminal threats.”
“All Jamaicans should be able to enjoy the Christmas season free from the threat of violence. We have some really serious criminal threats facing us and we have to use all the powers at our disposal,” Holness said.
“We have to ensure that our homicide rate and the level of violence that citizens experience on a daily basis does not get to the point where it threatens to collapse the state,” Holness said in his state address.
According to CNN, the state of emergency will be enforced in nine of Jamaica’s 14 parishes, which includes the popular tourist destination of Montego Bay.
“We have seen an increase in criminal activities in these areas and a threat to property and in some instances public disorder,” Holness said.
CNN reports the island nation has one of the highest murder rates in the Caribbean (per 100,000 people), and the state of emergency will allow authorities to arrest people and search buildings without a warrant.
The US Government is urging Americans to reconsider travel to Jamaica due to crime and gang violence.