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60-day extension of Mount Salem, Denham Town ZOSOs

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The zones of special operations (ZOSOs) in Mount Salem, St James; and Denham Town in West Kingston will be extended by a further 60 days.

The House of Representatives today approved two Resolutions for the extensions, which were moved by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Holness said the extended periods are necessary to enable transformation of the communities through intensified delivery of social services as well as giving the State the ability to continue to take back full control of the areas.

This will be the fourth extension for the Mount Salem Zone, the first to become operational on September 1, 2017, while it will be the third for Denham Town.

Prime Minister Holness told the House that the Denham Town ZOSO has transitioned into the third and perhaps the most challenging segment, which is the build phase. As such, he said, “we need to assure the residents that during this period and moving forward, the... joint forces will continue to provide an effective presence to prevent the return of criminals and their influence”.

He informed that the joint force will coordinate with the social-intervention committee as it carries out the various projects during the build phase. With respect to Mount Salem, the area has already undergone three extensions to facilitate development through the 'clear, hold and build' strategy and is currently undergoing increased social-intervention activities under the build phase.

Prime Minister Holness said the zone will continue in the build phase during the extended period, with activities to intensify.

“The Mount Salem Zone continues to be secured by members of the joint force. The operational objective is to continue to provide a secure environment for the roll-out of the social-intervention activities. There have been no reports of major crimes in Mount Salem, no report of abuse by the security forces, and the residents continue to cooperate with the security forces,” he pointed out.

Holness noted that before the establishment of the ZOSOs, Mount Salem and Denham Town were experiencing rampant criminality. He said there was a breakdown in the rule of law and lack of control by the State, but, most importantly, the residents were perpetually fearful for their lives.

“Today, I can unequivocally report that this has changed. Crime has been significantly reduced and the residents have been enjoying some level of peace in their community,” Holness told the House.

“Though we recognise that there is still much to be done if enduring success and peace is going to prevail, building trust between all parties is a process and will only be realised over time.

The residents can now envision lasting peace and hope for their communities,” he added.

The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act gives the Prime Minister power to declare an area a ZOSO in order to tackle increased crime and volatility. This is in consultation with the National Security Council.

The zone can only be established after the Police Commissioner and the Chief of Defence Staff make a request

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