Senate to Debate Special Zones Bill Today

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As the security forces face increasing pressure to deal with outbreaks of violent crimes in sections of the Corporate Area members of the Senate will turn their attention to the Zones of Special Operations bill today.

The bill, which was passed in the House of Representatives last week, is to be tabled and debated in the upper chamber of parliament this morning.

The bill — which had 18 amendments — was approved in the Lower House with support from the Opposition, which had initially criticized it saying it’s unnecessary and oppressive.

The Zones of Special Operation and Community Development Bill is regarded as a principal plank of the Holness administration’s response to curbing crime in Jamaica.

Debate on the bill will begin as Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, is being reported as saying he’s monitoring the crime situation in his constituency of West Central St. Andrew where three people were killed on Hill Avenue in Olympic Gardens on Monday.

Mr. Holness is in Grenada, attending the 38th Heads of Government conference.

Following the attack, the Gleaner newspaper reported that some of his constituents in Olympic Gardens have called for the community to be designated the first zone of special operations.

Under the proposed legislation, the Prime Minister may only declare an area a zone of special operations if a request is made in writing by the Police Commissioner and the Chief of Defence Staff.

This change was made following the Opposition’s concerns that the bill would’ve disrupted a convention where the political directorate doesn’t have a direct hand in the operational decisions of the security forces.

Prime Minister Holness also pledged that he’d consider allowing the Opposition to have representation on the National Security Council.

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