Challenges: While Jamaica saw a slight reduction in the rate of murder and other violent crimes in 2012, the country still suffers from a high per capita rate of violent crime with a trend showing a slight increase in 2013. Jamaica remains the Caribbean’s largest source of marijuana for the United States as well as a transit point for cocaine trafficked from South America to North America and Europe. Additionally, legitimate political, economic, and social institutions continue to be influenced by organized crime and corruption. There is a low level of public trust in the Jamaican Constabulary Force (JCF) because of consistently high numbers of civilian deaths resulting from police actions and from endemic police corruption. The JCF is chronically under-resourced, as is the criminal court system, which contributes to the ineffectiveness of Jamaica’s efforts to control crime. Given that tourism is a staple of the Jamaican economy, public perception abroad of Jamaica’s crime problems is a threat to economic development and foreign investment. However, because of the popularity of “all-inclusive” resorts and chaperoned excursions by cruise ship passengers, crime against tourists is limited, but it does occur on occasion. Lottery scams originating in Jamaica, on the other hand, are estimated to have stolen almost $300 million from U.S. citizens in the U.S. during 2012.
Goals: As part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), INL efforts in Jamaica focus on law enforcement professionalization, including the provision of non-lethal force equipment and training, institutionalizing community based policing, and support for the JCF’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB). INL’s program also focuses on improving Jamaica’s border security with support to Jamaica Customs and to the Jamaica Coast Guard; and on Jamaica’s ability to investigate and prosecute transnational crime (drug and arms trafficking, organized crime, money laundering, and large-scale fraud, especially lottery scams) and to seize and forfeit the criminally-acquired assets that result. Funding includes training and commodity assistance for the Financial Investigation Division (FID) of the Ministry of Finance, the National Forensic Sciences Laboratory, the JCF Crime Scene Investigations (CSI) teams, the JCF Transnational Crime and Narcotics Division (TCND), the JCF Major Organized Crime and Anti-corruption Task Force (MOCA), and the JCF Organized Crime Investigation Division (OCID), which includes the Cyber-crime Forensic Investigation Unit (CFIU). INL support for the criminal court system is also a key priority, as the courts’ lack of efficacy is a significant barrier to addressing Jamaica’s crime challenges.
Accomplishments: A nexus exists between corruption and weak government institutions, and INL is supporting Government of Jamaica efforts to strengthen weak institutions and regain legitimacy among Jamaican citizens. INL’s law enforcement professionalization efforts include providing 6,000 front line JCF officers with non-lethal force equipment and training, the institution of community based policing, and support for the Jamaican JCF-ACB. Since the ACB’s reorganization in 2008 (with joint support from the U.S., the U.K, and Canada), more than 4% of the JCF’s 11,200 person force have been dismissed for unethical or corrupt behavior. In 2012, the National Forensic Sciences Laboratory, with the assistance of INL-provided equipment, demonstrated a 62% increase in its ability to analyze and process ballistic evidence for the prosecution of gun crimes (firearms account for 70% of all murders in Jamaica). And in 2013, with broad support from INL and USG law enforcement agencies, Jamaica is on its way to an approximatley 200% increase in the seizure of cocaine being trafficked through the country.