‘Zones of Special Operations’ has been a buzz phrase in Jamaica recently. These ‘zones’ were part of a Bill proposed by Government in an effort to tighten security in the nation.
What inspired the Bill?
The first half of 2017 saw record increases in crime and violence in Jamaica. By January 2, two murders had been reported in the island. Nineteen days into the year, RJR News reported that more than 80 people had already been murdered. By January 25, The Gleaner was reporting a 1100% increase in crime in Hanover in the just first 21 days of the year. The alarming rate of increase – coupled with the gruesome manner in which the murders were carried out – prompted Government to take ‘extraordinary measures’ in the form of the Bill.
What does the Bill say?
The official name is ‘The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act’. According to the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), “The Bill … [is] an act to provide for special measures for upholding and preserving the Rule of Law, public order, citizen security and public safety within certain geographically-defined areas of Jamaica, or, in short, zones of special operations.” It allows the prime minister, on the advice of the National Security Council, to declare any high-crime area of Jamaica a zone for special security operations and community development measures.
The Gleaner clarifies: “According to the memorandum of objects and reasons, the bill seeks to balance the need for security and giving the members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force certain essential powers that are required to address serious crimes, on the one hand, and upholding the rule of law and protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens, on the other hand.”
Sources: Zones of Special Operations to be Established as part of Crime Initiatives to Secure Jamaica, Zones of Special Operations Bill Clears Parliament, Private Sector Leaders Support Zones of Special Operations Bill