Judge slams SOE, ZOSO as she chides pregnant accused women

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 15, 2019

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A stinging rebuke of states of emergency (SOE) and zones of special operations (ZOSO) has been delivered by one of Jamaica's respected parish judges.

Parish Judge Maxine Ellis is of the view that the security exercises will not solve Jamaica's crime problem.

Judge Ellis made the comment while addressing the three accused, two of whom were in an advanced state of pregnancy and were before the the Kingston and St Andrew court on assault charges last week.

Kneife Ferguson, Shelia Smith and Kallise Brown, who are expected to give birth on November 8 and September 25 respectively, are charged with assault occasioning bodily harm.

“They could a call ZOSO and SOE; it is not going to solve crime. Children are conceived and born in violence,” Ellis said.

Noting that right up to delivery date expecting mothers are fighting, Ellis argued that children are seeing violence all around them.

All three accused reside at the same premises.

Before extending the bail bonds of Brown, Smith and Ferguson, and referring them to restorative justice, Ellis urged them to resolve their issues because they are bringing children in a toxic environment.

At the same time, she asked the police to keep their eyes on the yard in which they live.

The latest state of public emergency was declared in St Catherine and Clarendon on September 5 by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

At the announcement of the SOEs, Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson said that crime had been escalating in the parishes, with Clarendon recording the highest number of murders for a police division since January.

He said the parish, which has had 100 killings so far, has historically been one of the most violent divisions in the country.

There have been 91 homicides in St Catherine South, a 50 per cent increase in murders over last year this time.

Another 66 people have been murdered in the Clarendon North division, a 14 per cent drop over the similar period of 2018, the commissioner said.

The police chief argued that the other SOEs have proven that the security measure is effective in reducing violent crimes.

He pointed to a reduction in murders in St James, Westmoreland and Hanover of 24, 61, and 50 per cent, respectively, compared with the similar period prior to the declaration of SOEs in those parishes.

Furthermore, he said that, in St Andrew South there has been a five per cent decline in murders compared to the similar period before the SOE.

Major General Anderson said that 73 firearms have been recovered in St James this year, 10 more compared to the similar period last year. He said the recovery of 4,500 rounds of ammunition represents a tripling of what was recovered during the corresponding period of 2018.

“This is indicative of a lot of the work that's being done under the ambit of the states of emergency, including community interventions [and] building out our intelligence network,” he said.


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