ZOSO to be repackaged, exported
Prime Minister Andrew Holness said an overhaul of the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO) Act will be done shortly and packaged as a template to expand into more communities across the island and exported to other countries that are having challenges with social issues similar or greater than Jamaica’s.
Although the prime minister did not provide a timeline by which the country’s legislators are likely to review the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations), Special Security and Community Development Measures Act, he said the act, which was first passed in 2017, is in need of review to make the process of implementation faster, among other things.
“As it relates to the future of the strategy of the zones of special operations, we will have a review of this in Parliament. There will be changes coming to the legislation and hopefully very soon, so that it is more functional and easily deployed,” Holness said.
He gave that commitment while delivering the keynote address at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the new police station in Mount Salem, St James, as part of the ‘build’ phase under the ZOSO in the community.
According to Holness, the Government will engage the services of The University of the West Indies to look at the best practices of ZOSO operations as part of arriving at a workable template going forward.
“We are also going to do a technical and academic study on how the strategy of the zones of special operations has 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,” he said. “So we are looking to have a professor from The University of the West Indies take a very serious study of how it has worked over the past three years.”
Holness said that when the review is completed, the Internment will turn its attention to other communities, with the support of the European Union and budgetary allocations of the Government.
PARISHES FOR INTERVENTION
While not giving away too much, Holness singled out Westmoreland, St Ann and St Catherine, where the activities being practised in some communities have recommended themselves for the intervention of the State by way of enhanced security measures under the ZOSO.
“Certainly, I don’t like to say where these communities will be, but I think areas in Westmoreland, areas in St Ann, and areas in St Catherine would recommend themselves highly for zones of special operations,” he added.
Since 2017, four communities have benefited from ZOSO intervention, with Mount Salem in St James being the first recipient on the basis that its homicide rate was extremely high as the area was at war with itself and other communities under the influence of a few misguided individuals, who had the community under siege.
Denham Town ZOSO problematic
Holness said while there is general control and a major reduction is crimes in all areas where the ZOSO has been declared, the Denham Town area continues to pose some problems in the holding phase.
“In the Greenwich Farm area where we have another Zones of Special Operations, again the reports is that crime has gone right down. Where we do have a problem is in Denham Town (Western Kingston) and the challenge is not necessarily where the zone is located because within the zone I think generally there is control,” Holness said.
He said the security forces are now reviewing the operations of that zone with a view to strategically expand the areas that are problematic and arrest the problem. Holness further noted that since the Zones of Special Operations in August Town, the reports certainly as it relate to murders and crimes, have gone all the way down. In terms of the citizens’ development intervention, those are in train.