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First zone of special operations to be declared within days - Chuck

Published:Thursday | August 31, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck

The first zone of special operations should be declared in a matter of days, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck said yesterday.

He said a great deal of work is being done to ensure that all is in place for the successful operation of the zone.

"For the last six weeks, I can assure you that we have been planning and waiting to ensure that once we declare the zone, the operations will begin from day one to be successful," said.

"We have been working assiduously, and what I will tell you is that we were waiting to ensure that certain resources were in place, (and) they are now in place, and ... within a matter of days, not weeks, I believe we will have a declaration," the Minister said.

He was speaking at a sensitisation session for lay magistrates and justices of the peace (JPs) on the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act at the ministry's offices in Kingston.

The JPs and the lay magistrates were drawn from the parishes of Kingston, St Andrew, St Thomas and St Catherine.

Chuck stressed that the Government had been deliberate in its planning and implementation of the zone.

"Let me make it very clear that when you see a prime minister, who deliberates and is ensuring patience in terms of implementation, it is not that we are sitting idly and not doing anything," he said.

Chuck said that once the zone is declared, a meeting will be held with the custos and lay magistrates of the relevant parish, who will then be introduced to the Zone Commander in charge of operations.


No advanced notice


He said that no advanced notice will be given regarding the area that will be declared, so as to prevent criminals from moving weapons and ammunition. He noted that once an area is cordoned off, persons will be given an opportunity to surrender their weapons.

Chuck added that the appropriate technology will be employed in carrying out searches during the period of operation.

He indicated that the security forces have been put on high alert and meetings have been held with representatives from social-intervention agencies.

JPs have role to play

The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act was passed earlier this year in the Houses of Parliament. It seeks to contain crime while safeguarding the human rights of residents and promoting community development through social-intervention initiatives.

The law gives the Prime Minister power to declare an area a zone of special operations in order to tackle increased crime and volatility in a community. This is in consultation with the National Security Council.

The zone can only be established after the police commissioner and the chief of defence staff make a request for such a declaration in writing to the Prime Minister.

JPs have a critical role to play in ensuring the protection of citizens' rights once an area has been designated a special crime zone.

Once a person has been detained, the police will have to convince the JP that the person is suspected of having committed a crime. If the JP disagrees, then the person must be released. If the JP agrees, then that person must be taken before a parish judge within 24 hours.