The Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) in Denham Town, West Kingston; Mount Salem, St. James; and Greenwich Town and August Town in St Andrew have been extended by a further 60 days.
The House of Representatives, on Tuesday (February 9), approved four Resolutions for the extensions, which were moved by National Security Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang.
In his remarks, Dr. Chang said the interventions within these communities are at different stages of the ‘clear-hold-build’ strategy.
He noted that Mount Salem and Denham Town are operating in the build phase, while Greenwich Town and August Town have transitioned into the hold phase.
Dr. Chang informed that as a deliberate and decisive measure, a strategic review has been undertaken, especially for the Denham Town ZOSO.
“As a result, some aspects of the operational command and strategy in that community have been readjusted. We have also sought to prescribe additional targeted measures that will bring even further relief to these communities,” he said.
“We are ensuring that the community is reconnected to the key agencies of Government that deliver each programme, thus engendering sustainability and credibility among citizens that it is, in fact, the Government that is the legitimate provider of support services,” he added.
Dr. Chang stated that notwithstanding the continuous review and evaluation at the community level, work has also started on a comprehensive review process at the policy level.
He informed that the work of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament to consider and report on The Zones of Special Operations Act, 2017, is fully under way.
The Minister advised that, to date, the Committee has received presentations from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Jamaica Police Federation (JPF), Peace Management Initiative (PMI), and the Citizen Security Secretariat (CSS).
“The ZOSO Act is a critical component of the suite of modern legislation geared towards creating a framework for sustainable development and community renewal. While the core feature of the Zones of Special Operations is to facilitate the necessary social transformation of these communities, this can only be achieved on a foundation of security provided by the formal security forces,” Dr. Chang said.
“In other words, in order for us to restore a sense of hope and reprieve, and to achieve a healthy social and economic environment in the identified communities, it is necessary for the security forces to establish that environment of safety and public order,” he added.
The Minister further stated that “that is the only way we will achieve sustainable social transformation, which these communities require”.
He emphasised that the Zone of Special Operations is an ambitious and necessary tool that has been well considered and designed in the best interest of the people.
Dr. Chang assured that the Government is committed to restoring the identified communities to safe, productive and crime-free environments.
“We are pursuing all available best practices and seeking to utilise all available security measures, including those that provide additional powers to the security forces. The residents of these communities deserve every available tool that we have at our disposal. The extension of these Zones of Special Operations is, therefore, an essential requirement for effective social transformation,” he stated.