Speech by the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Holness Press Conference to Declare Zone of Special Operations in Greenwich Town

The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, 2017

The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) (Greenwich Town Zone) Order, 2020

Wednesday, July 1, 2020 at 9:00am at OPM Media Centre, Jamaica House

As of today, I,  as PRIME MINISTER IN COUNCIL, that is to say, as CHAIRMAN of the NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL, acting on the advice of the security forces have officially declared A ZONE of SPECIAL SECURITY AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT OPERATIONS under The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, 2017.

The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) (Greenwich Town Zone) Order, 2020 has been gazetted.

This Law under which the Zones are declared was created for upholding and preserving the rule of law, public order, citizen security and public safety within certain geographically defined areas of Jamaica.   This Law allows for a coherent strategy utilising inter-Ministerial and inter-agency coordination toward social intervention with the aim that the people gain confidence in the security forces and trust the justice system so that the new culture of the community is self-sustaining and permanent. 

This Government continues to place greater focus on citizen security through the implementation of the Clear – Hold – Build approach. This commitment has led to the development of a National Plan for Citizen Security which will be utilised as an important supporting framework for citizen security programming to deliver an appropriate and sustainable mix of responsive, protective and preventative interventions. The Government of Jamaica (GoJ) will therefore continue to leverage this approach as a platform for developing and refining practices that promise enduring positive results in improving citizen security through the social and physical transformation of vulnerable communities.

To this end, the concept of Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO) has proven itself; the Government through the actions of the Security Forces can take back control and enforce the rule of law while respecting the rights of citizens.

These measures have been largely pursued within the context of Jamaica’s threat environment with gun related crimes, and the other activities of gangs and dons posing the greatest challenge to the internal security of the country.

The crime trend generally, in the St. Andrew South Division has largely been influenced by the threats posed by gangs and guns.  Despite the imposition of a State of Public Emergency (SOPE) and reductions for the period 1 January to 29 June 2020 over the corresponding period for 2019, the St. Andrew South Police Division had the highest number of murders and shootings among all police divisions.

After a careful examination of these threats, it is known that there are some underlying root causes which if addressed with the right set of social intervention programming, will reduce the risk posed both at the community and national levels.

An analysis of the situation in the Greenwich Town area, has revealed that the community continues to be characterised by increased gang-related violence and criminal activities as the gangs compete for area dominance. The overall intention in the space will be geared at the urgent need to save lives and setting the conditions for, and the delivery of, effective social interventions to reduce social vulnerability to violence and crime. 

It is important that we continue to build on the successes of the use of Zones of Special Operations and ensure that the experiences of: peace; protection by the state, and; safety from gang violence, become the reality of the Greenwich Town community, as was largely the experience in the Mount Salem and Denham Town ZOSOs.

It is therefore worthwhile to reiterate that this successful model must be repeated in other communities across Jamaica.   

The declaration of the first ZOSO on September 1, 2017 was a landmark event in the history of Jamaica. This experience has allowed us enough time to engage in a process of review and assessment.  This process has now allowed me to deliver on a position I had previously outlined in 2018.  I have now guided the members of the National Security Council to prepare the proposed amendments which will build on the lessons from the first two zones; through a more robust framework for implementation and accountability (including targeting of resources and building capacity) which will be in place going forward.

The Government remains determined and committed to pursuing those measures and strategies that will establish stability and long-lasting transformational results in Jamaica’s most vulnerable communities.

Criminals have created enterprises with the gang culture becoming pervasive.  They continue to place communities in an environment of fear, control and intimidation.  This has adversely affected investment, business development and economic growth. The aim must be to transform Jamaica in a decisive way. The low-trust culture characterized by high levels of aggression and violence as a way to resolve conflict must be eliminated.

The decisions that have been made are deliberate and carefully sequenced.   We constantly assess and evaluate until we are sure that the time is right and the resources are ready.

In accordance with the written recommendations of the Chief of Defence Staff and the Commissioner of Police, I have designated  MAJOR KEVRON HENRY of the JDF and MR WAYNE CAMERON, SENIOR SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE of the JCF to be jointly in charge of operations within the Zone.

The Chief of Defence Staff – Lieutenant General Rocky Meade will advise of the boundaries and protocols for the Zone.