Jamaica Observer / The call by Government Senator Charles Sinclair for a tightening of the screws on the criminals with the use of the state of public emergency in St James is one that we wholeheartedly support. The measure, as stated by Senator Sinclair, and based on reports we have been receiving, has left the cowardly gunmen cowering — a state in which we hope they will remain as the security forces hunt them down and, we expect, eventually capture and successfully prosecute them in the courts. This country, we maintain, should not allow a few miscreants to hold it to ransom. Indeed, we are encouraged by news that law-abiding Jamaicans are now giving information to the security forces about sightings of strange men in their communities and, further, that the authorities are acting on these tips. That is the type of cooperation between the public and the security forces that we have been advocating for a long time and which, we hold, will help Jamaica manage this scourge that has so hobbled our push for economic growth.
We again urge the security forces to include in their scope of investigation the individuals who finance and defend the criminals because they, as we have always argued, are just as guilty as the callous brutes who are killing people, leaving families and communities in pain and smearing the name of the country worldwide.
While we support the continued use of the state of public emergency we acknowledge the point raised by Senator Sinclair that the measure cannot remain in effect forever. It is with that in mind that we join his call for Government agencies that provide social services to collaborate on initiatives aimed at turning residents of crime-ridden communities away from violence. This, as we recall, was a crucial element of the Zones Of Special Operation (ZOSO) about which the country is hearing very little, if anything, these days.
The Social Intervention Committee, which was established by the Government to manage the process, should give the country a report on what it has been able to achieve so far in the two ZOSO communities — Mount Salem in St James, and Denham Town in Kingston. That will provide the country with an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the operation.
We don’t expect that vulnerable and volatile communities will be transformed overnight. Change will be extremely difficult, especially in an environment where disregard for law and order, broken families, and the lack of basic social amenities are the norm.
However, the efforts to improve people’s lives can only benefit from review, which will undoubtedly help the Social Intervention Committee and the State agencies doing the work.