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JP pleased with professionalism of security forces in ZOSO

Saturday, September 30, 2017

ST James Justice of the Peace (JP) Noel Hastings says he is pleased with the conduct of the joint security forces in the Mount Salem Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO), noting that the residents' rights are being respected.

Hastings tells JIS News that the members have been operating in a professional manner.

“I personally drove through the zone. Initially, it was a little tense but after realising it would continue, the people started to feel more comfortable (around the security forces). They are doing a good job,” he said.

Hastings added that he has seen where the rights of the citizens were being safeguarded, adding that residents have reported that there have been no abuses and the security personnel are polite and respectful.

Protection of human rights has been built into the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act.

The law establishes a strict accountability framework to ensure that the human rights of citizens are observed and that the security forces account for their actions within the zones.

National Security Advisor Major General Antony Anderson told JIS News that the law requires selection of the commanders on the ground, and there is a requirement for them to receive training in human rights, the use of force and community development initiatives.

“The joint forces have received training and that is ongoing to prepare people to operate within the zones,” he said.

JPs play a critical role in ensuring that the rights of citizens are observed in the zones. It is their responsibility to be present when the security forces are conducting searches.

In addition, individuals detained or arrested must immediately be brought before a JP, who will determine whether there are reasonable grounds for the arrest or detention.

If the JP is satisfied that the arrest or detention is justified, the person shall be remanded in custody for not more than 24 hours, after which he must be brought before the judge of a parish court.

If the JP is not satisfied that the arrest or detention is justified, “he shall order that the person be released forthwith”.

During arrest or detention, a person has the right to be visited by a spouse, partner, family member, religious counsellor, medical practitioner and attorney-at-law.

Director and principal of the Justice Training Institute (JTI), Karen Campbell-Bascoe said JPs got training in human rights and the rights of the Jamaican citizen through the qualifying and specialised training programme offered by the entity.

She noted that the training was ongoing so that JPs can fully understand their roles in the ZOSOs.

Acting Custos of St James Claudette Bryan, who rosters the JPs, said they have been keen to serve in the Mount Salem ZOSO.

“We do have enough JPs who have offered themselves willingly to serve,” she said.

“We have approximately 674 JPs (in the parish)...We do not have a problem. I have more than enough JPs who I can roster,” she stressed.

The acting custos, meanwhile, voiced support for the Government's move to establish the ZOSOs in order to address crime and violence and ensure that social intervention and development initiatives are put in place.

Bryan also hailed the professionalism of members of the joint forces, which she described as “excellent”.