The Government of Canada is warning its citizens to exercise a “high degree of caution” if travelling to Jamaica, due to what it claimed is the “high level of violent crime” on the island.
It is the second travel advisory issued by the Canadian authorities for Jamaica this month, following the one that was issued in early December, shortly after a state of emergency (SOE) was imposed in eight parishes on December 6.
Interestingly, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his immediate family are presently vacationing in the island amid a boom in the arrival of overseas traveller’s and celebrities during the ongoing winter tourism season.
According to the Government of Canada’s travel advice and advisory notices which were updated on Wednesday, December 28, the same day a new slate of SOEs were imposed in eight parishes in Jamaica, the emergency measure “will be in effect until January 11, 2023.”
The SOEs were declared in Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine, Clarendon, St Ann, Hanover, Westmoreland and St James.
The Canadian government said the measure was “reinstated” in those parishes “due to increased violence and gang-related crime”.
It said “During this period (of the SOEs), security forces have increased rights to conduct searches, seizures and detain persons of interest.”
The Canadian authorities further cautioned its citizens that if they are travelling to the areas under the emergency measure, they “may be subject to searches” by security forces.
It also advised travellers to:
“Always co-operate with military and police officers
“Carry valid ID (identification) at all times and be prepared for various checkpoints
“Allow extra time to reach your destination
“Follow the instructions of local authorities
“Monitor local news to stay informed on the current situation.”
In relation to violent crime, the Canadian travel notice said such incidents, “including armed robbery and murder, (pose) a problem in large cities and tourist areas, including parts of Kingston and Montego Bay, despite the presence of police to counter criminal activities.”
It added that, “The availability of firearms is widespread and most violent drug-and-gang-related crimes, especially murder, involve firearms.
“There is a risk of becoming the victim of crossfire in these areas. Tourists are also at risk of crimes of opportunity, especially theft and robberies.
“Crimes tend to be concentrated within what the police refer to as ‘traditional hot spots’ or ‘high-risk communities’, but can take place anywhere and at any time.”
The advisory pointed to the following areas as having significant gang populations and high incidences of violent crime:
Lower Cockburn Gardens
St Clavers Avenue
Meanwhile, the Canadian government said if persons decide to travel to those areas, they should:
“Maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times
“Avoid visiting or travelling at night
“Follow the advice of local authorities
“Avoid walking alone, even during the day
“Go out in groups with people who you know
“Avoid visiting isolated areas and beaches
“If you’re threatened by robbers, don’t resist, and hand over your cash and valuables. Resistance may provoke the use of violence,” the advisory stated.
The authorities also warned Canadians of other crimes, among them being petty offences, and sexual assault of especially women, along with credit card and ATM fraud.