Prime Minister Andrew Holness
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has gone on the defensive in relation to the Zones of Special Operations law.
Mr. Holness, who spoke in the House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon, sought to dismiss the argument about why Mount Salem in St. James was selected as the first zone.
"The discussion as to whether the zone should be there or elsewhere should not arise once it is clear that the criteria laid down in the law are satisfied," he contended.
Mr. Holness said the government acknowledges that there are other communities in the police district of Mount Salem that are contributing to the violence. He added that it is not the intention to stigmatise or unfairly malign residents within Zones of Special Operations.
"At the same time...we cannot ignore that we have dangerous people living in these communities, hiding behind innocent citizens, capturing these communities, and so Mr. Speaker, I welcome the public dialogue because it is important that members of those communities start the process of separating themselves from the criminals," the prime minister asserted.
"The only time that we are going to be able to take back Jamaica from the criminals is when the people who live in the neighbourhoods decide that we are tired of the criminals here and we will stand up with the law enforcement and with the State to take back the communities," he declared.
In terms of the success of the first zone of special operations in Mount Salem, the prime minister announced that following 32 special operations conducted by the joint force in the first 10 days, five illegal firearms were recovered. Two wanted men were taken into custody and lead sheets were also recovered.
"The next 10 days will see the continuation of internal security operations to rid the zone of illegal weapons, ammunition and contraband," he said.