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  • Violence Prevention Alliance

ZOSO Should be positioned as a Force for Economic Development

The Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) is recommending that the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO) be positioned as a force for economic development.

The VPA made the recommendation while making a submission to the Joint Select Committee of Parliament in review of the Law Reform Act, recently.

“We want to emphasize that sustainable development should be the priority of the ZOSO and that it is backed by the security interventions and the benefit of this is that when communities know that this effort is one to develop the community, you are going to have greater citizens activism,” said Kaodi McGaw, a representative of the VPA and one of three persons who presented on behalf of the Alliance.

Ms McGaw further advised that there will also be higher engagement from the citizens themselves who will try to protect their own livelihood and security. She also stated that this would lead to more sustainable interventions.

“When I say sustainable interventions, I mean they are interventions that are co-owned and developed by the communities themselves,” she said.

Ms McGaw noted that one way of intervening in a community in crisis is to apply a community transformation model, which involves interrupting the community violence either through engagement and mediation; therapeutic camps, counselling and peace treaties.

“The next step has to be healing and reconciliation and this involves persons in the violence. Under this we look at improving literacy to improve cognitive abilities; we look at small income earning projects to divert persons from unlawful methods. We encourage sports and arts and the renovation of green spaces, so that those green spaces can be re-occupied by the community,” she said.

Another recommendation put forward by the VPA was that there should be some measuring and standards for success. This she said included greater details in defining the stages of the ZOSO framework; established criteria in exiting ZOSO communities and transparent and easily understood measures of success.

Thirdly, Ms McGaw said the VPA would like to see more robustness of the Act where specific tools or methods will be utilized to suppress and interrupt and prevent violence.

“Currently as the Act stands, this is left up to the agencies to decide and we think it would be best to define these tools and methods in the Act itself. We also see it as important that the framework for focus deterrents should include other criminal justice and social work actors and that should not be left up to the joint command,” she said.

Ms McGaw noted that there should be an oversight mechanisms as a point of reference for citizens seeking compensation. Another recommendation to the Act that she highlighted that the VPA is lobbying for is that there is no broad brush for suppression, but that different approaches should be applied to different communities.

In the declaration of zones, she stated that there should be greater consideration of the security threat to include impact on neighbouring communities.

The VPA is further recommending that the Planning Institute of Jamaica be given the license to guide the deployment process; that a situational analysis be done and a team be put in place with the requisite skills to fulfill this role.

“There is a need for identification of specific Justices of the Peace to be trained and sensitized about their roles and the support they should provide. A roster of these JPs to be 'on call' should be placed at the relevant holding and detention centres,” she pointed out.

Also representing the VPA in Parliament were Saffrey Brown, social and local development practitioner and consultant with the VPA and Tarik Weeks, research fellow at the Institute of Criminal Justice and Security, The University of the West Indies.

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