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Kingston, Jamaica, September 3, 2017: The People’s National Party says developments over the past 24 hours have made it imperative that the Prime Minister clarify the crime statistics and all issues surrounding the declaration of the first Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) in Mount Salem in West Central St. James.

Information is emerging which suggests that Mount Salem was never recommended by the Joint Forces Heads to be the first zone, as required by the ZOSO Act. The Prime Minister must disclose whether it was a specific recommendation of the Joint Heads or whether he selected it on his own.

The Prime Minister risks the nation losing confidence in the process which is clearly and precisely set out in the Act.  Section 4 (2)  specifies that in the declaration of a Zone “ there are reasonable grounds to believe that due to rampant criminality, gang warfare, escalating violence and murder and the threat to the rule of law and public order, it is necessary so to do.” Based on the data available, Mt. Salem does not meet this specification. Therefore, the declaration of Mt Salem as a Zone of Special Operation appears to be an unlawful act.

The Prime Minister must also bear political responsibility for the messy situation which this has become including confused personnel mobilisation, inaccurate crime statistics,and the lack of adherence to the Act. If he does not, the country will conclude that he manipulated the entire process for political purposes. Confidence in his leadership must be shaken as manipulation would not only be morally outrageous but would be a breach the ZOSO Act.

The Party remains deeply concerned about the lack of an overarching plan and strategy to seriously tackle the spiralling murder rate nationwide. Since the party’s press conference exactly a week ago, 32 Jamaicans have been killed and the fear levels have increased as children are being murdered going into the new school year.What should be a sober national undertakingis instead being turned into a public relationsgimmick.

The PNP remains firm in itsrecommendation that crime is not to be politicized and that a meeting of all stakeholders should be immediately convenedso that a national consensus may be reached on a workable crime plan.