Parliament to review ZOSO Act, says PM

Parliament to review ZOSO Act, says PM

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer

Saturday, November 28, 2020

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MOUNT SALEM, St James — The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act is to be reviewed by Parliament in an effort to make it more functional and deployable, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said yesterday.

Additionally, Holness said the measure, which is aimed at curbing crime through security force occupation of vulnerable communities and preserving human rights during the period of occupation, is to undergo a study that will hopefully result in it becoming a model for other countries.

The prime minister made the announcements at a ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of a new $45-million police station in Mount Salem, St James which, in September 2017, was the first of four communities to be placed under zones of special operation (ZOSO).

“We're going to do a study, a technical and academic study, on how the strategy of the zones of special operation have worked, and indeed to have it become a template that can be used not just in Jamaica but other countries that face the same social issues,” Holness said.

“So, we're looking to have a professor from The University of the West Indies take a very serious study of how it has worked over these past three years. With the support of the European Union, plus the budgetary support of the Government of Jamaica, we will look to expand the number of communities that are under the zone of special operations,” added Holness.

In addition to Mount Salem, ZOSOs have been declared in Denham Town in western Kingston, which came into operation October 2017; Greenwich Town in south western St Andrew, which followed on July 1, 2020; and August Town, eastern St Andrew, which has been operating since July 2020.

Yesterday, Holness noted that while three of the four are doing well, Denham Town is a challenge.

“Since we have put in place the zone of special operation, in August, certainly as it relates to murders and crimes, those are gone all the way down. In terms of the citizens' development interventions, those are in training. In the Greenwich Farm area where we have another zone of special operations...again, the reports in terms of crime have gone right down. Where we do have a problem is in Denham Town, and the challenge is not necessarily where this one is located, because within the zone I think generally there is control. I think the strategy has to be how do we expand this to take into account areas that are problematic, and so we are reviewing it,” he said.

Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson argued that before the implementation of a ZOSO in Mount Salem, in that year there were 12 homicides and one shooting. Since then, only two have taken place over the three-year period.


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