Level of Relief in Mount Salem – PM

Photo: Michael Sloley Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday (September 12).

Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says that after only 10 days since the establishment of the Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) in Mount Salem, the residents are able to express a level of relief, as they now feel free to move throughout the community without fear.
  • “Residents have been both receptive and accommodating towards the initiative and have acknowledged the requirement for intervention to address the issue of crime and violence,” he said.
  • Meanwhile, Mr. Holness said the operation of the Zone has shown that law enforcement officials can do their job without breaching human rights.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says that after only 10 days since the establishment of the Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) in Mount Salem, the residents are able to express a level of relief, as they now feel free to move throughout the community without fear.

He said they have welcomed the operations and the professionalism being demonstrated by the joint security forces.

“Residents have been both receptive and accommodating towards the initiative and have acknowledged the requirement for intervention to address the issue of crime and violence,” he said.

He noted that while building trust between all parties will take time, the partnership between the citizens and the security forces is gradually changing.

“The outlook has been promising,” he said.

The Prime Minister was speaking during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday (September 12).

He was making his first report to Parliament in accordance with section six of the Zones of Special Operations (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, which requires a report within 14 days of the declaration of a Zone.

Mr. Holness said the presence of the joint forces within the Zone has already yielded positive results.

He reported that following 32 special operations conducted within the first 10 days, five illegal firearms were recovered, two wanted men were taken into custody, and a number of lead sheets were also recovered.

He said that the next 10 days will see the continuation of internal security operations to rid the Zone of illegal weapons, ammunition and contraband.

In addition, the joint command has provided its first 10-day report of activities in the Zone.

Prime Minister Holness said this has been reviewed by the National Security Council and “was found to be satisfactory, with respect to operational outcomes as well as the accountability procedures of the members of the joint forces”.

Meanwhile, Mr. Holness said the operation of the Zone has shown that law enforcement officials can do their job without breaching human rights.

“Jamaica and Jamaicans and our institutions have the capacity to pursue what is right without doing what is wrong. And, if nothing else, this is proof of a concept that we can fight crime and fight the criminals without killing innocent Jamaicans,” he noted.

The area of the Zone of Special Operations is approximately 0.4 kilometres square with a population of about 3,500 residents and a murder rate of 190 per 100,000. This is four times the national average.

The presence of four major gangs in the Mount Salem community, as well as a number of other less-organised gangs has, over the years, contributed to the fear felt by residents as a result of their involvement in murders, contract killings, shootings, robberies, lottery scamming, extortion, drug/firearms trafficking, among other illegal activities.

Additionally, the criminal activities of these gangs are not only restricted to the geographical boundaries of the community but have negatively affected other areas of the St James Division and Area One.

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