Thu | Nov 23, 2017

No ZOSO abuse! - PM praises security forces conduct in zone

Published:Wednesday | September 13, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Prime Minister Andrew Holness reporting to his parliamentary colleagues on the first ZOSO yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that the security forces have demonstrated that they do not have to abuse the rights of citizens in order to carry out an effective job in the first zone of special operations (ZOSO) in Mount Salem, St James.

In a statement to the House of Representatives yesterday, Holness said before the passage of the bill, there were concerns that powers given to the security forces would result in flagrant breaches of human rights in the areas where zones of special operations are declared.

"If members would join me in reflecting on the past six months, before the bill was passed in this House, the concern was if we unleash this level of security forces on the people, that somebody's door would be kicked off and someone would be put to kneel and shot in the head."

"We have not done that," the prime minister declared, noting that "Jamaica and Jamaicans and our institutions have the capacity to pursue what is right, without doing what is wrong."

 

READ Prime Minister's full statement on ZOSO

He suggested that ZOSO was an approach that proves the security forces can fight crime and criminals without killing innocent people.

Holness was at pains to point out that ZOSO was not intended to stigmatise communities where it is established.

He said that the security forces had been giving a better level of service to the citizens in the zone.

To date, five guns have been recovered and two persons arrested in Mount Salem.

The prime minister urged law-abiding Jamaicans to "stand with the security forces, embrace this initiative, and own their responsibilities as stakeholders in the country".

Holness asserted that ZOSO was a part of a wider set of measures the Government would pursue to tackle crime and violence in Jamaica.

In his remarks, Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips said that since the declaration of the first ZOSO, there has been a steady increase in the murder rate.

"In the first 10 days of September, since the declaration of the zone in Mount Salem there have been 54 murders across the entire country."

Phillips said that since the declaration of the zone, the rate of murders daily has been greater than the national average. "That is to say, we have been going nationally at about 4.4 murders per day and in the period since the zone, the national average is approximately 5.5 murders per day.

"Far from resulting in a quelling of the spate of criminal activity in the country, there has been an expansion of it all."

Phillips noted that there was a dilemma of having massive resources from an already under-resourced Jamaica Constabulary Force and Jamaica Defence Force in Mount Salem while other areas being impacted by serious crime were in need of additional resources.

However, the prime minister said that the strategy employed in the ZOSO has not depleted the resources from areas that have a spike in violence.