House approves extension of St James SOE, Mount Salem ZOSO

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

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THE House of Representatives yesterday approved the Emergency Powers (Continuance) (No.4) Resolution 2018, which will extend the State of Public Emergency (SOE) in the parish of St James until January 31, 2019.

All 47 members of the House that were present voted in favour of the motion. Sixteen members were absent.

The House also approved a resolution extending the Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) in Mount Salem, St James, for a period of 60 days.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in his remarks on the SOE resolution, noted that prior to the security measure the homicide rate in St James was at 182 per 100,000.

“The calling of the SOE for St James was without question justified, because it was an emergency,” he pointed out.

“Given the state of affairs today, and the comparatively good results between the 2017 and 2018 crime figures, we can unequivocally say at this point it has been successful in reducing murders,” he added.

Holness said that between January 1, 2018 when the SOE was declared and October 11, 2018, the St James Police Division accounted for 77 murders and 86 shooting incidents.

This reflected declines of 53 per cent and 67 per cent, respectively, in both murders and shootings, when compared to the same period in 2017, when there were 234 murders and 184 shootings.

During the SOE, the security forces have the power to search, curtail operating hours of business, restrict access to places and detain individuals without a warrant.

It also gives them power to stop and question persons, seize property, and control public gatherings and movements.

The Constitution provides that a period of public emergency can be declared by proclamation if the governor General is satisfied that action has been taken or is immediately threatened by any person or body of persons of such a nature and on so extensive a scale as to be likely to endanger public safety.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, speaking on the Mount Salem ZOSO resolution, noted that activities in the community have progressed steadily since its declaration as Jamaica's first Zone of Special Operations in September 2017.

“Today, the high rate of gang-related violence, which previously characterised the community, and the police division by extension, is no longer at the level it was prior to the declaration of the zone,” he said.

“In fact, over the period September 2017 to October 11, 2018, the community experienced no murders or shootings,” he added.

Holness said there is a commitment to sustain the interventions, which will include measures to address violence and steer young men away from gangs.

“The social intervention has to be parallel with the security intervention. The intervention has to create an area where people feel secure, that they can have their rights preserved and that there is quick access to a system of justice,” he noted.

The State, through the Social Intervention Committee, has coordinated the delivery of social services to the community. The interventions have intensified since the transition to the build phase in February 2018.

To date, phases one and two of road rehabilitation have been completed and include the rehabilitation of Mount Salem and Barnett View roads. Also, about 115 households have had their accounts regularised by the National Water Commission.

In addition, the Mount Salem Primary and Junior High School is to be rehabilitated to include construction of a classroom block; renovation of the sanitation block, kitchen, and existing bathrooms; and undertaking termite treatment for the compound.

In addition, a new state-of-the-art infant school will be developed, with the project to entail a four-classroom block and bathrooms. Perimeter fencing will be erected and a tertiary sewer system built.

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