House passes extensions to SOEs, ZOSOs by narrow margin

The House of Representatives on Tuesday night approved resolutions extending the life of three current states of emergency (SOEs) and the two Zones Of Special Operations (ZOSOs) by a single month.

However, the extension times are not expected to affect the targeted areas while Parliament takes its Christmas break to return in late January, as they will continue into February.

The SOEs affected are: the St Andrew South police division; the tri-parish coverage of Hanover, St James and Westmoreland; and the bi-parish coverage of Clarendon and St Catherine.

The Government opened debates last week expecting Opposition support for the two ZOSOs — Denham Town in Kingston and Mount Salem in St James — to be extended by another 60 days, and the SOEs by another 90 days.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness opened the debate on the SOEs while Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang opened the debate on the two ZOSOs. However, with the prime minister currently overseas it was left to Dr Chang to pilot all five resolutions.

But, after Dr Chang had re-opened the debate the Opposition immediately tore into the request for the usual 60-days and 90-days extension, by exploiting the weaknesses in the programmes and the fact that murders and robberies have not subsided in some targeted areas.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips said that the Government’s current anti-crime operations did not need more than “cordons and curfews”, which did not require a state of emergency or the detention of citizens for interrogation.

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