Paulwell wants ZOSOs instead of SOE in sections of eastern Kingston

Paulwell wants ZOSOs instead of SOE in sections of eastern Kingston

Friday, February 07, 2020

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OPPOSITION Member of Parliament for Kingston Eastern and Port Royal Phillip Paulwell wants the Government to remove at least three communities in his constituency from under the recently declared state of emergency (SOE), covering the Kingston Eastern Police Division.

Paulwell, who was speaking in the debate on extending the life of the SOE in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, suggested that Port Royal, which he says is “the most peaceful place in Jamaica”, should be removed immediately from under the SOE.

He also called for the volatile areas of Rockfort and McIntyre Lands (Dunkirk) to be removed from under the SOE and transformed into Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs).

Paulwell said that he was amazed to get complaints from residents of Port Royal that “there are soldiers at their doors” and they are being told to “keep off the streets”.

“There is the flexibility of apportioning borders around areas that you can decide as areas within the state of emergency. Why not leave Port Royal out of it. I am making a strong recommendation that you exclude Port Royal,” he told National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang.

However, while admitting the prevalence of gang violence plaguing the communities of Rockfort and Dunkirk, he insisted that instead of placing them under the SOE, it would be better to remove them from the emergency measures and focus on a social intervention programme to replace the concluding Citizens' Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), which was being financed by the Government of Jamaica, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); Global Affairs Canada; and the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (DFID).

Paulwell said that his constituents welcomed the SOE, because they see it as a “last resort, in the absence of other meaningful crime-fighting measures”.

He said he shared the view of his fellow Opposition MP, Julian Robinson, that one of the complaints from residents enduring the escalation in violent crimes in the areas was that there was insufficient human resources available because the security forces were stretched over other areas where there were SOEs.

“As for me, the most effective way to deal with an upsurge is really by virtue of the presence of the security forces, and not necessarily the additional powers that they have under the SOEs,” he stated.

He added that, that being the case, it has been very difficult for him to assure his constituents, where they are being fired at or where people are firing wildly and they don't have the protection of the security forces.

“I suspect that the experience within the ZOSOs are better, in terms of your overall success at crime fighting than in the areas where we only have the states of emergency,” he argued.

He suggested a serious assessment of the situation, having regard to the cost of both the SOEs and ZOSOs, to see whether the proliferation of the ZOSOs would not be money better spent.

He said that was even more important, in light of the fact the funding for the CSJP is drying up despite the many positive results which had been secured under the CSJP in reducing conflict.

Now it is coming to an end, he said that there is justification to transform more of the volatile areas still under the state of emergency into zones of special operations for better results in reducing crime and violence.

– Balford Henry

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