- Among the provisions is that once an area has been declared, a ZOSO Communications Unit will be established exclusively for all information and media-related activities during the operations.
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The media protocol for the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO) was outlined during a press conference held at the Office of the Commissioner of Police on Thursday (August 31).
The document, which was created to ensure safety, transparency, accuracy and timely dissemination of information to the public during ZOSO operations, contains 13 guidelines.
Among the provisions is that once an area has been declared, a ZOSO Communications Unit will be established exclusively for all information and media-related activities during the operations.
Information will not be deemed official until it is verified and confirmed by the ZOSO Communications Unit.
All requests for interviews with the State agencies should be channeled through the unit.
All media personnel must be accredited in order to enter a zone during a curfew or cordon.
The accreditation of media houses and journalists is being conducted by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) in consultation with the ZOSO Communications Unit.
Civil Military Cooperation and Media Affairs Officer from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Major Basil Jarrett, who is one of the two security personnel assigned to spearhead the ZOSO Communications Unit, said the body was established to bring structure to the reporting process and reassure the public that there will be transparency in all operations.
“We see the media as an important partner in reassuring Jamaicans that there is transparency, so the policy was created to assist media practitioners to do their work freely under national security operations,” he noted.
Superintendent of Police, Stephanie Lindsay, who is the other security personnel assigned to spearhead the ZOSO Communications Unit, noted that the team is ready.
“We are ready, we have identified and trained zone commanders, and this training was a joint exercise between the JCF [Jamaica Constabulary Force] and the JDF,” she informed.
She noted that the joint commanders will determine access to specific areas within the designated zone that are deemed high-risk during the operations.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the JIS, Ian Boyne, indicated that the accreditation process is going well.
He said that the response from the media houses has been good, and the JIS has accredited all the persons whose names and photographs have been submitted. He encouraged other media entities to submit their list of personnel soon.
Director of Communications at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Robert Morgan, for his part, reassured media stakeholders that the ZOSO is not a state of emergency.
“The ZOSO will not be primarily militaristic operations. A big part of the operations is the building phase where the Government will go in to these designated areas with the State agencies and social-intervention safety officers to reclaim these communities and give them access to the necessary government services,” he shared.
He added that all media practitioners are welcome to report on the operations.
“We are trying as best as possible not to restrict anyone who has media interest from the zones. If someone is a freelancer and is interested in covering a ZOSO, all they have to do is make the necessary application through the JIS, and it will be approved based on investigation and merit – meaning, are they a journalist, are they identifiable within the field,” he explained.
He noted that persons do not have to be associated with a major media house to cover the zones.
“Provisions will be made to give accreditation once thorough investigation has been done to assess the freelancer’s journalistic intensions,” he pointed out.
Mr. Morgan stressed that the Government is not trying to close off the zones from public scrutiny, as a big part of the accountability framework is the public knowledge of what is happening.
“We want the public to see it and know what is happening, and this is one of the ways we will build trust and reassure persons and the country about the ZOSO operations,” he said.