National Security Council Stands by Mount Salem Zone Declaration

Photo: JIS Photographer Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (centre), is briefed on activities within the Mount Salem Zone of Special Operations in St. James by Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Major Godfrey Sterling (right), during a tour of the community on Sunday, September 3. Major Sterling is jointly in charge of operations in the Zone with Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Superintendent, Kirk Ricketts. Accompanying the Prime Minister (from left) are Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Rocky Meade; Attorney-General and Member of Parliament for West Central St. James where Mount Salem is located, Hon. Marlene Malahoo-Forte; National Security Advisor, Major General Antony Anderson; and National Security Minister, Hon. Robert Montague.

Story Highlights

  • The National Security Council (NSC) met yesterday to discuss matters related to Zones of Special Operations, including concerns expressed in the media about the declaration of Mount Salem as a Zone.
  • The Council, however, states that this was only a single element of the data provided, and this figure and error would not have changed the recommendation made by the Joint Command.
  • The NSC wishes to state categorically that it stands by its deliberate process of selection, and reaffirms that the violence in the community and its influence on neighbouring areas, support the original recommendation and decision.

The National Security Council (NSC) met yesterday to discuss matters related to Zones of Special Operations, including concerns expressed in the media about the declaration of Mount Salem as a Zone.

The NSC wishes to state categorically that it is satisfied that the decision to declare Mount Salem as the first Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) was justified based on the relevant legal criteria, intelligence, as well as strategic and operational considerations of the Joint Command.

The NSC notes that at the press conference announcing the first Zone, there was an error made in the number of murders given as having been committed in the community in 2017.

The Council, however, states that this was only a single element of the data provided, and this figure and error would not have changed the recommendation made by the Joint Command.

The JCF has therefore been asked by the NSC to review their systems of data collection and collation to ensure that there are no systemic challenges. The JCF has also been asked to hold the correct Mount Salem Zone murder data until it has completed this process.

It is anticipated that this information will be provided within the next 48 hours.

The NSC wishes to state categorically that it stands by its deliberate process of selection, and reaffirms that the violence in the community and its influence on neighbouring areas, support the original recommendation and decision.

Accordingly, while the NSC is sensitive to the concerns of the community regarding stigmatisation, it does not believe it is acceptable that persons in the community live in fear.

It is, therefore, calling on all law-abiding members of the community to stand with the security forces against criminal elements which cause them and their loved ones to live in fear.

The National Security Council also wishes the public to note that all reports on the ground reflect the maintenance of peace and order within the Mt. Salem Zone of Special Operations, since its declaration.

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