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PM announces funding to improve lockups; Denham Town, Mount Salem ZOSOs extended

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Government will be providing funds in the second supplementary estimates for the 2018/19 financial year to improve the physical condition of lockups.

He made the disclosure during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday at Gordon House, where two Resolutions for the extension of zones of special operations (ZOSOs) in Mount Salem, St James, and Denham Town in West Kingston were also approved.

The move follows the prime minister's tour of lockups and detention centres in Kingston, St Catherine and St James on December 8, to get a first-hand look at the facilities and the systems in place.

Holness visited the Denham Town forward operating base, the Tamarind Farm detention facility and the Twickenham Park detainee processing facility, before visiting the Freeport lockup.

“I reiterate the Government's commitment to protecting and safeguarding the human rights of all Jamaicans, while reducing the country's crime rate. At this time, in relation to the States of Public Emergency, we have 77 persons detained, 20 in St James, 36 in St Catherine and 21 in Kingston,” Holness said.

He noted that the tour of the lockups and detention centres was an opportunity to see whether there was room for the Government to make improvements.

“My assessment is that we have to consider improving the dietary provisions, and I have given a directive to the minister of finance and public service, in the upcoming supplementary budget, to make an allocation. The bathroom facilities are always in a position where they can be improved, so we will be looking at making some improvements, as we can, to many of them,” Holness told the Lower House.

He said he is satisfied that the security forces are “implementing the agreed systems of accountability for having in custody, Jamaican citizens who are detained”.

Denham Town, Mount Salem ZOSOs extended

Meanwhile, the ZOSOs in Mount Salem, St James, and Denham Town in West Kingston will be extended by a further 60 days.

The extensions will go up to February 16, 2019 in the case of Denham Town and March 7, 2019 for Mount Salem.

Holness said that the ZOSOs are currently in the build phase, where there is a focus on intervention projects.

“By design, this build phase is being implemented in three stages on a road map that has being developed by the social intervention committee. The first stage was a focus on citizenship intervention… the second stage we started road rehabilitation, access to health services, water regularisation, sanitation, zinc fence removal, green spaces and school rehabilitation,” he noted.

“Now, the phase that we are in island regularisation and housing. That phase will take an extensive period, far greater than 60 or 120 days, to give people titles, do surveys of lots and help them to reorganise communities. All of that work is now being planned and some have actually started,” he pointed out.

The prime minister told the House that during the recent tour of Mount Salem, he saw the progress of work on a number of projects.

“You could see that the construction of the walls… just moving the zinc fences, paving the roads, (cleaning) the gullies, has transformed the physical environment. People just feel better about their community,” he said, stressing that these projects require adequate time for completion.

A zone of special operations can be declared under the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act.

The law seeks to contain crime while safeguarding the human rights of residents and promoting community development through social intervention initiatives in areas where a zone operates.

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