International Criminology World

World : North America : Jamaica

Arawaks from South America had settled in Jamaica prior to Christopher Columbus' first arrival at the island in 1494. During Spain's occupation of the island, starting in 1510, the Arawaks were exterminated by disease, slavery, and war. Spain brought the first African slaves to Jamaica in 1517. In 1655, British forces seized the island, and in 1670, Great Britain gained formal possession.

Sugar made Jamaica one of the most valuable possessions in the world for more than 150 years. The British Parliament abolished slavery as of August 1, 1834. After a long period of direct British colonial rule, Jamaica gained a degree of local political control in the late 1930s, and held its first election under full universal adult suffrage in 1944. Jamaica joined nine other U.K. territories in the West Indies Federation in 1958 but withdrew after Jamaican voters rejected membership in 1961. Jamaica gained independence in 1962, remaining a member of the Commonwealth. Since that time, closely contested elections have resulted from the rivalry between two political parties. The 1972 elections brought to power the leftist, pro-Cuban People's National Party (PNP) headed by Michael N. Manley. Manley and the PNP were voted out in 1980 after a turbulant election in which 800 Jamaicans were killed resulting from clashes between politically-oriented gangs of "Jamaican posses." He was succeeded by Edward Seaga of the Jamaican Labor Party (JLP) who cut off ties with Cuba and reestablished an alliance with the United States. However, Manley and the PNP returned to power in 1989, with a moderate free-market platform more acceptable to the United States. Manley was succeeded as prime minister by P.J. Patterson, and the PNP maintained a majority in the House in the elections of 1993, 1997, and 2002.

Historically, Jamaican emigration has been heavy. Since the United Kingdom restricted emigration in 1967, the major flow has been to the United States and Canada. About 20,000 Jamaicans emigrate to the United States each year; another 200,000 visit annually. New York, Miami, Chicago, and Hartford are among the U.S. cities with a significant Jamaican population. Remittances from the expatriate communities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, estimated at up to $800 million per year, make increasingly significant contributions to Jamaica's economy.


Jamaica has natural resources, primarily bauxite, adequate water supplies, and climate conducive to agriculture and tourism. The discovery of bauxite in the 1940s and the subsequent establishment of the bauxite-alumina industry shifted Jamaica's economy from sugar and bananas. By the 1970s, Jamaica had emerged as a world leader in export of these minerals as foreign investment increased.

The country faces some serious problems but has the potential for growth and modernization. After 4 years of negative economic growth, Jamaica's GDP grew by 0.8% in 2000. Inflation fell from 25% in 1995 to 6.1% in 2000 and 7.0% in 2001. Through periodic intervention in the market, the central bank prevented any abrupt drop in the exchange rate. The Jamaican dollar has been slipping, despite intervention, resulting in an average exchange rate of J$47.4 to the U.S.$1.00 (Dec. 2001). Although interest rates continue to decline from 1995 levels, they are still high, averaging 26.8% in December 2001.

Weakness in the financial sector, speculation, and low levels of investment erode confidence in the productive sector. The government raised $3.6 billion in new sovereign debt in local and international financial markets in 2001. This was used to meet its U.S. dollar debt obligations, to mop up liquidity to maintain the exchange rate, and to help fund the current budget deficit. Net internal reserves rose from $969.5 million at the beginning of 2001 to $1.8 billion at the end of the year.

Jamaican Government economic policies encourage foreign investment in areas that earn or save foreign exchange, generate employment, and use local raw materials. The government provides a wide range of incentives to investors, including remittance facilities to assist them in repatriating funds to the country of origin; tax holidays which defer taxes for a period of years; and duty-free access for machinery and raw materials imported for approved enterprises. Free trade zones have stimulated investment in garment assembly, light manufacturing, and data entry by foreign firms. However, over the last 5 years, the garment industry has suffered from reduced export earnings, continued factory closures, and rising unemployment. This can be attributed to intense international and regional competition, exacerbated by the high costs of operations in Jamaica, including security costs to deter drug activity. The Government of Jamaica hopes to encourage economic activity through a combination of privatization, financial sector restructuring, falling interest rates, and by boosting tourism and related productive activities.


There were improvements in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report. The Government recognized the Rastafarian religion in the settlement of a lawsuit, which allowed clergy of the Church of Haile Selassie I to visit and worship with prisoners. Marijuana, which is used as part of Rastafarian religious practice, remains prohibited. Members of the Rastafarian community have complained that law enforcement officials unfairly target them; however, it is not clear whether such complaints reflect discrimination on the basis of religious belief or are due to the group's illegal use of marijuana.

The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.

The country has a total area of 4,243 square miles, and its population is approximately 2,652,700.

According to official government statistics compiled during the 2001 census, 24 percent of the population identify themselves as members of the Church of God, 11 percent as Seventh-day Adventist, 7 percent as Baptist, 10 percent as Pentecostal, 4 percent as Anglican, 2 percent as Roman Catholic, 2 percent as United Church, 2 percent as Methodist, 2 percent as members of Jehovah's Witnesses, 1 percent as Moravian, 1 percent as Brethren, 3 percent unstated, and 10 percent as "other." The category "other" includes Hindus, Jews (of whom there are approximately 350), and Rastafarians. There are an estimated 5,000 Muslims. Of those surveyed, 21 percent stated that they had no religious affiliation.

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. There is no state religion.

Legal recognition of a religion is facilitated by an act of Parliament, which may act freely to recognize a religious group. Recognized religious groups receive tax-exempt status and other attendant rights, such as the right of prison visits by clergy.

In February, the Government recognized Rastafarianism as a religion. An out-of-court settlement following a suit brought by the Public Defender gave Rastafarian prisoners the right to have clergy visit and worship with them. However, smoking marijuana as a sacrament of worship remains prohibited.

There are religious schools; they are not subject to any special restrictions and do not receive any special treatment from the Government. Foreign missionaries are subject to no restrictions other than the same immigration laws that govern other foreign visitors.

Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Christmas are national holidays. These holidays do not adversely affect any religious groups.

Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion.

Members of the Rastafarian community have complained that law enforcement officials unfairly target them; however, it is not clear whether such complaints reflect discrimination on the basis of religious belief or are due to the group's illegal use of marijuana, which is used as part of Rastafarian religious practice. It is alleged that the police force Rastafarian detainees to cut their hair and surreptitiously give them food that they are forbidden to eat.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees.

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

In August 2001, the Public Defender's Office filed a lawsuit against the Government on behalf of a Rastafarian prisoner who charged that he was denied the right to worship. The prisoner claimed that he had no rights to the ministrations by clergy afforded to prisoners of other religions, and that he was denied use of the prison chapel for a Rastafarian baptism. The Church of Haile Selassie I also was named as an applicant on the grounds that its right to minister to a congregation was denied. The Commissioner of Corrections and Attorney General were named as respondents in the suit. In February, an out-of-court settlement was reached, which gave government recognition to the religion. The agreement stated that Rastafarian prisoners are entitled under the Constitution to have their church conduct acts of worship with them.

The country has a well-established tradition of religious tolerance and diversity. Relations among the various religious communities are generally amicable. However, members of the Rastafarian community reported isolated incidents of discrimination against them in schools and the workplace.

The U.S. Embassy discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.


The crime rate in Jamaica is high compared to industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for Jamaica. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. Jamaica will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 2001 was 43.71 per 100,000 population for Jamaica, 1.10 for Japan, and 5.61 for USA. For rape, the rate in 2001 was 35.00 for Jamaica, compared with 1.78 for Japan and 31.77 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 2001 was 80.93 for Jamaica, 4.08 for Japan, and 148.50 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 2001 was 352.25 for Jamaica, 23.78 for Japan, and 318.55 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 2001 was 83.31 for Jamaica, 233.60 for Japan, and 740.80 for USA. The rate of larceny for 2001 was 82.39 for Jamaica, 1401.26 for Japan, and 2484.64 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 2001 was 3.68 for Jamaica, compared with 44.28 for Japan and 430.64 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 681.77 for Jamaica, compared with 1709.88 for Japan and 4160.51 for USA. (Note that Japan data are for year 2000)


Between 1995 and 2001, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder increased from 31.20 to 43.71 per 100,000 population, an increase of 40%. The rate for rape increased from 30.68 to 35.00, an increase of 14%. The rate of robbery decreased from 176.96 to 80.93, a decrease of 54%. The rate for aggravated assault decreased from 595.32 to 352.25, a decrease of 41%. The rate for burglary decreased from 230.32 to 83.81, a decrease of 64%. The rate of larceny decreased from 251.12 to 82.39, a decrease of 67%. The rate of motor vehicle theft decreased from 6.36 to 3.68, a decrease of 42%. The rate of total index offenses decreased from 1321.96. to 681.77, a decrease of 48%.


The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) had primary responsibility for internal security, assisted by the Island Special Constabulary Force. The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF--army, air wing, and coast guard) was charged with national defense, marine narcotics interdiction, and JCF support. The JDF had no mandate to maintain law and order and no powers of arrest, unless so ordered by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister occasionally gave the JDF powers to cordon and search. The Ministry of National Security oversaw the JCF and the JDF. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces; however, some members of the security forces committed human rights abuses.

There were reportedly eight politically motivated killings during the year, committed by supporters of various political factions. The police committed some unlawful or unwarranted killings during the year.

The police frequently employed lethal force in apprehending criminal suspects. There were 127 deaths, including those of 13 police officers, during police encounters with criminals, compared with 147, including 16 police, in 2002. While allegations of "police murder" were frequent, the validity of some of the allegations was suspect. The country faced a critical crime situation with a homicide rate exceeding 37 per 100,000 persons. Well-armed gangs that trafficked in narcotics and guns controlled many inner-city communities. The gangs often were equipped better than the police force and conducted coordinated ambushes of joint security patrols. There were targeted assaults against police officers and their families.

In October, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights released the report of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, which stated that the country had an unacceptably high number of questionable police shootings and should hold more policemen accountable for their actions.

On May 7, members of the JCF's Crime Management Unit (CMU) killed two men and two women at a home in Crawle, Clarendon. The JCF officers involved claimed that they returned fire after someone in the home shot at them; however, witnesses to the incident disputed this claim. These allegations led to the disbanding of the CMU and the reassignment of its Senior Superintendent to a desk job. The JCF Commissioner requested foreign assistance in investigating the incident. London's Metropolitan Police Service sent detectives to investigate. On October 30, they submitted a report to the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP), where it remained at year's end.

In November, police fatally shot two elderly men and wounded a woman in the community of Flankers, St. James. The Commissioner of Police and the Minister of National Security later apologized to the community for the incident. The police presented their findings to the DPP, where the case remained at year’s end.

The JCF conducted both administrative and criminal investigations into all incidents involving fatal shootings by the police (see Section 1.d.).

In July 2002, police shot and killed 7-year-old Romaine Edwards during what police said was a shoot-out with gang members in Lawrence Tavern, St. Andrew. On March 21, the Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI) submitted the case file to the DPP, where it remained at year's end.

In the case of the November 2002 police killing of Daemon Roache, the BSI was still preparing it for referral to the DPP at year's end.

During the year, at least five detainees died while in police lockups; some of the deaths involved negligence (see Section 1.c.).

On June 16, the judge presiding over the trial of the police officer charged with the 2001 murder of Dave Steele discharged the jury members after the jury foreman reportedly was seen conversing with a lawyer who was observing the proceedings on behalf of Steele's family. Although the trial was rescheduled for October, it had not resumed as of year's end.

On March 14, 2 years after the CMU shot and killed seven youths in Braeton, St. Catherine parish, Amnesty International (AI) issued a report of its own investigation into the incident, with the assistance of an independent U.K. firearms expert, stating that it found new evidence that supported the ongoing investigation of the case by the DPP. The authorities brought charges against six police officers, and their trial was expected to begin in mid-2004.

In August, the coroner's court found that the security forces were not "criminally responsible" for the 2001 death of Andrew Stephens, a JLP "don" (gang leader), which reportedly occurred in a shoot-out with police.

In May, a three-member panel of Supreme Court judges ruled that the case against the police involved in the 1999 death of Patrick Genius was insufficient for further investigation.

The law prohibits torture and other abuse of prisoners and detainees; however, reports of physical abuse of prisoners by guards continued, despite efforts by the Government to remove abusive guards and improve procedures. There were also credible reports that police abused detainees in lockups.

At year's end, the case involving accusations of police use of excessive force against demonstrators protesting the 2001 demolition of 17 squatters' homes was still pending with the DPP.

In April 2002, the DPP ruled that two police officers should be charged with wounding with intent and malicious destruction of property for a 2000 incident in which police fired on a minibus when the driver failed to stop at a roadblock. The case was still before the courts at year's end


The Jamaica Constabulary Force Act permits the arrest of persons "reasonably suspected" of having committed a crime. There were some reported incidents of arbitrary arrest during the year, and the authorities continued to detain suspects, particularly those from poor neighborhoods, without bringing them before a judge within the prescribed period.

Human rights organizations were satisfied with the progress of the policy requiring that each new case involving detention of persons deemed "unfit to plead" for reasons of mental illness be brought to the court's attention once per month.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force falls under the direction of the Ministry of National Security. It is headed by a Commissioner who delegates authority through the ranks to its constables. The force maintains divisions focusing on community policing, special response, intelligence gathering, and internal affairs. Generally, the JCF was effective, although corruption and impunity were problems. In June, the Government dismantled the controversial police Crime Management Unit after another incident in which citizens were killed by police during an alleged shootout (see Section 1 a.).

The JCF conducted both administrative and criminal investigations into all incidents involving fatal shootings by the police. The JCF's BSI, which employed 29 investigators, specifically addresses police shootings. The BSI completed investigations of 37 of 323 shooting incidents during the year and sent them to the DPP. The DPP ruled on 10 cases and sent 3 to criminal courts. One officer was found criminally liable. The BSI supplemented the JCF Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigated police corruption and other misconduct, and the civilian Police Public Complaints Authority (PPCA), which oversaw investigations of the other two bodies and could initiate its own investigations. The PPCA had 12 investigators.

On December 8, the JCF Commissioner signed a memorandum of understanding with police officers' representatives that outlined a new policy statement on human rights and police use of force and firearms. The statement incorporated U.N.-approved language on basic principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials.

The JCF continued an initiative of "community policing" to address the problem of long-standing antipathy between the security forces and many poor inner-city neighborhoods. The Police Federation conducted lectures to educate policemen in citizens' rights. The Government, the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights, and foreign governments developed human rights materials to be used in all subjects at the primary and secondary levels, which were being tested in selected classrooms at year's end. Part of the test involved 1,000 coloring books, depicting human rights and corresponding responsibilities, distributed to two primary schools in the Kingston area.

In September, over a year after the Privy Council overturned Randall Dixon's 1996 conviction for murder and returned his case to the Appeals Court to determine whether he should be freed or retried, the Appeals Court ordered his release. Prison officials hampered earlier attempts to remove Dixon from death row and return him to the general prison population. Dixon was originally convicted on the word of a police officer who picked him out of a lineup, even though two other witnesses at the scene of the crime failed to identify him.

The law requires police to present a detainee in court within a reasonable time period, but the authorities continued to detain suspects beyond such a period, which the Government attributed to an overburdened court system that could not accommodate large numbers of such presentations in a timely manner. Magistrates inquired at least once a week into the welfare of each person listed by the JCF as detained. There was a functioning bail system.

The law requires police to contact duty counsel (a private attorney who volunteers to represent detainees at police stations and until cases go to trial), if requested by the detainee, upon detention; however, the authorities continued to wait until after detainees had been identified in an identification lineup before contacting duty counsel for them.

The Constitution prohibits forced exile, and there were no reports that it occurred.


The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respected this provision in practice; however, the judicial system was overburdened and operated with inadequate resources.

Three courts handle criminal matters at the trial level. Resident magistrates try misdemeanors. A Supreme Court judge tries more serious felonies, except for felonies involving firearms, which are tried before a judge of the Gun Court. Defendants have the right to appeal a conviction in any of the three trial courts to the Court of Appeal, which is the highest court in the country. This appeal process resulted in frequent delays. The Constitution allows the Court of Appeal and the Parliament, as well as defendants in civil and criminal cases, and plaintiffs in civil cases, to refer cases to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom as a final court of appeal.

The judiciary's lack of sufficient staff and resources hindered due process, and the BSI also was faced with a large backlog. On June 30, 22 state prosecutors refused to work for 3 days in an effort to improve their working conditions. Trials in many cases were delayed for years, and other cases were dismissed because files could not be located. A night court had some success in reducing the backlog of cases. The Supreme Court began using mediation through the Dispute Resolution Foundation as an alternative to traditional trials, which alleviated some of the backlog in that court. The Resident Magistrate Courts also used alternative dispute resolution in limited cases.

Defendants have the right to counsel. Legal Aid attorneys were available to defend the indigent, except those charged with certain offenses under the Money Laundering Act or Dangerous Drugs Act. The Public Defender may bring cases for persons who have had their constitutional rights violated. The Public Defender's Office contracted private attorneys to represent clients; however, funds were insufficient to meet the demand, and attorneys sometimes requested payment from clients.

There were no reports of political prisoners.


Prison conditions remained poor; overcrowding, inadequate diet, poor sanitary conditions, and insufficient medical care were typical. There were no reports of prison riots. The majority of pretrial detainees were held in police lockups. The new Horizon Remand Center, placed under JDF control in 2002, received prisoners, which relieved some overcrowding. However, due to construction problems and staffing shortages, the facility could not receive its full capacity of 1,026 prisoners. At year's end, the Remand Center held only 500 inmates and had a skeleton staff supplemented by JCF and JDF personnel. In July, the Ministry of Health ordered the removal of approximately 65 inmates from the Spanish Town lockup due to problems with the facility's sewage system.

A separate prison for women--the Ft. Augusta Women's Prison--was housed in a 19th century fort. Sanitary conditions were poor, although far less so than in the men's prisons because there was less overcrowding. Ft. Augusta was also relatively safer and had less violence than the men's prisons. However, inmates at Ft. Augusta complained of beatings by guards.

The Constitution prohibits the incarceration of children in adult prisons; however, in practice some juveniles were held with adults. On July 16, Jamaicans for Justice, a local human rights nongovernmental organization (NGO), released a report citing incidences of rape, statutory rape, beatings, use of physical restraints, and harsh punishment against children housed in state-run "places of safety."

In January, the U.K. Privy Council upheld a 2000 Court of Appeals ruling that it was unconstitutional for juveniles to be held "at the Governor General's pleasure."

At year's end, the proceedings brought by the Public Defender seeking compensation from the Government for a prisoner who died in March 2002 at Mandeville police station as a result of being beaten by other prisoners were still pending.

At year's end, two 2002 cases of prisoners in Bull Bay and Manchester police lockups who died in police custody were still under investigation.

In general, the Government allowed private groups, voluntary organizations, international human rights organizations, and the media to visit prisons and monitor prison conditions.


Social and cultural traditions perpetuate violence against women, including spousal abuse. Violence against women was widespread, but many women were reluctant to acknowledge or report abusive behavior, leading to wide variations in estimates of its extent. During the year, the number of reported incidents of rape increased by 2 percent; however, NGOs stressed that the vast majority of rapes were not reported. The JCF rape investigative and juvenile unit, which was headed by a female deputy superintendent, handled sex crimes. The Domestic Violence Act provides remedies for domestic violence, including restraining orders and other noncustodial sentencing. However, the Act only covers relationships maintained in the same household. Couples who reside in separate domiciles are not covered under this act. Breaching a restraining order is punishable by a fine of up to approximately $200 (J$10,000) and 6 months' imprisonment.

In January, a court gave a suspended sentence to a man in Montego Bay charged with beating his girlfriend so severely that she was blinded in one eye, and it ordered him to pay the woman's medical bills as compensation. The judge found that the man was "obviously a good and just man" because he was married with three children. The girlfriend's reputation was a mitigating circumstance in the judge's decision.

In March, a woman in Kingston freed herself from a room where her partner had held her captive for many years. She showed scars and signs of years of physical abuse and starvation. Police investigators questioned the community about the situation. Neighbors admitted that they knew about the abuse, but they were afraid to report it to the police for fear of retribution by her partner. The man accused of the abuse was still at large at year's end.

There is no legislation that addresses sexual harassment, and it was a problem. There were no reports of sexual harassment of women by the police, but some observers believed that women did not report such incidents because there was no legal remedy.

The law prohibits prostitution; however, it was widespread, especially in tourist areas.

The Constitution and the Employment Act accord women full legal equality; however, in practice women suffered from discrimination in the workplace and often earned less than their male counterparts. The Bureau of Women's Affairs, reporting to the Minister of Development, oversaw programs to protect the legal rights of women. These programs had limited effect but raised the awareness of problems affecting women. During the year, the Bureau completed a review of 32 laws for gender bias and forwarded its recommendations to Parliament.

There was an active community of women's rights groups. Among the major concerns of these groups were the protection of victims of sexual abuse, participation of women in the political process, and legislative reforms affecting women.


The Government was committed to improving children's welfare. The Ministry of Education, Youth, and Culture was responsible for implementation of the Government's programs for children. The Educational Act stipulates that all children between 6 and 12 years of age must attend elementary school. However, due to economic circumstances, thousands of children were kept home to help with housework and avoid school fees.

There was no societal pattern of abuse of children; however, there were numerous reports of rape and incest, especially in inner cities. NGOs reported that inner city "dons" or gang leaders and sometimes even fathers initiated sex with young girls as a "right." There were 274 cases of statutory rape--sex with girls under 16--reported through September 21, a 23 percent increase over the same period in 2002. The Government expressed concern about child abuse and admitted that incidents were underreported.

Child prostitution was a problem. Reports indicated that children were being trafficked within the country for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The Government pledged to address this problem and worked in conjunction with the International Labor Organization (ILO) International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC). The ILO/IPEC office planned to release the findings of a survey on child labor in early 2004.

In April, the Government created the Child Development Agency (CDA) under the Ministry of Health, which combines services previously provided by the Children's Services Division, the Adoption Board, and the Child Support Division. The Agency's main objectives include advocating for children's rights, facilitating the best use of resources, improving the welfare of all children in need, and strengthening monitoring mechanisms under its control. In November, the CDA launched an action plan for orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.

In July, Jamaicans for Justice issued a highly critical report about the conditions of private and state-run children's homes and places of safety, which fell under the CDA's responsibility upon its creation. The report indicated that rape, statutory rape, beatings, physical restraints and harsh punishments occurred frequently in these facilities. The Ministry of Health and the CDA pledged to address these problems, and the CDA instituted new policies and procedures to manage critical incidents in child care facilities.

The Juvenile Act addresses several areas related to the protection of children, including the prevention of cruelty, a prohibition on causing or allowing juvenile begging, the power to bring juveniles in need of care or protection before a juvenile court, the treatment of juvenile offenders, the regulation and supervision of children's homes, and restrictions on employment of juveniles.


The law does not prohibit specifically trafficking in persons; however, there are laws against assault and fraud, and other laws establish various immigration and customs regulations. Trafficking in children was a problem; a 2000 ILO study found child prostitution, involving girls as young as 10 years old, to be widespread in all parts of the country. The Government took steps to address these children in need.


Jamaica is the preferred Caribbean transshipment point for South American cocaine en route to the United States and the largest Caribbean producer and exporter of cannabis. The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) continues to implement its National Drug Control Abuse Prevention and Control Master Plan and, during 2003, prepared an updated Plan for 2003-2008.

During 2003, the GOJ maintained existing counternarcotics law enforcement programs and took several steps to strengthen its counternarcotics capability. The GOJ established a new National Intelligence Bureau to coordinate and control the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) intelligence function. The JCF vetted unit continued to work with DEA on investigations targeting major traffickers. Although no major trafficker was arrested in 2003, vetted unit operations led to the arrest of several mid-level traffickers. The GOJ introduced a new Customs arrival form that requires the declaration of currency or monetary instruments over $10,000. To strengthen security at Jamaica’s seaports, the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) purchased closed-circuit television systems and non-intrusive inspection equipment. The GOJ established the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, as called for in its Corruption (Prevention) Act. The GOJ continued its cannabis eradication program during the year, although the amount eradicated fell far short of the amount agreed to by the U.S. and GOJ. Cooperation between the JCF, Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and Customs Contraband Enforcement Team (CET) resulted in several large seizures of drugs, but the amount of cocaine seized was less than that seized in the previous two years. U.S. law enforcement agencies note that cooperation with the GOJ is generally good and is steadily improving.

The GOJ has taken steps to protect Jamaica against drug trafficking and other organized crime but needs to intensify and focus its law enforcement efforts and enhance international cooperation in order to disrupt the trafficking of large amounts of cocaine through Jamaica and its territorial waters. Needed actions include arresting and prosecuting major drug traffickers operating in Jamaica, dismantling drug-trafficking organizations, and increasing drug seizures and eradication. The U.S. will continue to provide equipment, technical assistance, and training to assist the GOJ to strengthen its counternarcotics capabilities. Jamaica is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention and during 2003 made progress towards meeting the goals and objectives of the Convention.

Jamaica is the leading transit country for cocaine destined for the U.S. and European (primarily UK) markets and the largest producer and exporter of cannabis in the Caribbean. Jamaica is not a significant regional financial center, tax haven or offshore banking center, but some money laundering does occur, primarily through the purchase of real assets, such as houses and cars. Cash couriers are also a significant concern. (See money laundering section of this report.) Jamaica is neither a source of precursor or essential chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics nor a significant conduit for the transit of precursor chemicals. The GOJ lacks a control program that would enable it to detect the illegal diversion of such chemicals, as it has not yet drafted implementing regulations for the 2000 Precursor Chemicals Act.

Jamaica's economy shows only limited signs of recovering from the 1996 banking/financial crisis followed by several years of negative economic growth. Without continued international assistance, the GOJ is unlikely to fund adequately initiatives to disrupt and dismantle major cocaine trafficking organizations operating in Jamaica.

GOJ officials publicly state the government's commitment to combating illegal drugs and drug-related crimes. To stem Jamaica’s rising tide of crime and violence, in late 2002, the GOJ unveiled a broad-based anticrime program that explicitly identified drug trafficking as the primary revenue source and the basis of organized crime in Jamaica. One component of the program is a package of legislative reforms to enhance law enforcement and judicial powers. The first part of this package to be enacted was the requirement, effective August 2003, to declare cross-border movements of currency or monetary instruments in excess of $10,000. The Fingerprint Act and a comprehensive counterterrorism package were presented to Parliament in October 2003. A new Port Security Act has reportedly been drafted, but has not yet been presented to Parliament. Reforms in the areas of firearms, forfeiture of the proceeds of crime (including civil asset forfeiture) and plea-bargaining have yet to be drafted. Technical amendments to the 2002 Interception of Communications (Wiretap) Act are also needed to make it more effective. In October, the JCF established a National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) that is charged with the collection, analysis and dissemination of police intelligence. The NIB, which replaces the National Firearms and Drugs Intelligence Unit, will include liaison personnel from the JDF, Customs, Immigration and Correction Services. The NIB, however, has not yet been fully funded. The GOJ continues to work with international partners to modernize its law enforcement agencies, in particular the JCF. In addition to U.S. assistance, the UK is assisting the JCF in a five-year modernization program.

During 2003, the GOJ continued to take steps to strengthen its capability to identify, apprehend and prosecute drug traffickers and dismantle drug trafficking organizations. The GOJ operates under severe resource constraints, however, as well over 60 percent of the country's annual budget is expended for debt service. Nonetheless, the GOJ spent substantial amounts in 2003 to maintain an interdiction capability consisting of helicopters and patrol vessels. In a major effort to overhaul security at the nation's seaports, the PAJ signed a $21 million contract for non-intrusive inspection equipment, procured closed-circuit television surveillance systems for the Kingston and Montego Bay ports and hired an expert to provide technical assistance and oversight. The PAJ has also hired additional personnel to operate the security equipment. Customs continued to implement its modernization plan, which, among other things, calls for the vetting of Customs officers and expansion of the CET. In December, the GOJ hired 24 additional Customs officers for the CET, bringing staffing to 45 Customs officers and four narcotics police. In February 2003, Jamaica’s Business Anti-Smuggling Coalition chapter was launched. The GOJ continued to fund the operating expenses for the Caribbean Regional Drug Law Enforcement Training Center. The GOJ in 2003 finalized its third National Drug Control Abuse Prevention and Control Master Plan (2003-2008), which at year’s end was with the Cabinet for review.

Both the JCF and JDF assign a high priority to counternarcotics missions. The JDF Air Wing and Coast Guard are actively involved in maritime drug interdiction efforts. The JDF worked with the USG's Joint Inter-Agency Task Force/South throughout the year to successfully disrupt a number of planned go-fast drug deliveries. The JCF Narcotics Division, a competent and respected unit, is undergoing a multi-year restructuring and expansion program that will increase its staffing to 250 officers over the medium term. Intelligence-driven operations coordinated by DEA and the JCF vetted unit continue to target major drug trafficking organizations and led to the arrest of several mid-level traffickers.

Cooperation between the JCF, JDF and CET resulted in several large seizures of drugs, including multi-ton shipments of cannabis in containers at the ports. Cocaine seizures, however, were lower than in 2001 and 2002. In April, the JCF located a clandestine laboratory, seizing approximately 44 kilograms of cocaine along with chemicals used in its production, the first such discovery by Jamaican law enforcement. The JCF also made the largest hashish oil seizure in Jamaica’s history, seizing a record 1.620 metric tons secreted in a concrete bunker. In 2003, the GOJ seized 1.586 metric tons of cocaine, 36.6 metric tons of cannabis and 1.897 metric tons of hashish oil. The GOJ eradicated 444.6 hectares of cannabis, far short of the eradication goal of 1,200 hectares agreed to in the Letter of Agreement between Jamaica and the U.S. under which the U.S. is providing counternarcotics assistance to Jamaica. Nonetheless, the JCF Narcotics Division destroyed 3.7 million cannabis seedlings at 279 nurseries. The JCF arrested 6,042 persons on drug charges, including 303 foreigners, in 2003. Almost 400 of these arrests resulted from enhanced scrutiny, aided by the use of U.S.- and UK-provided drug detection equipment, of departing passengers at the two international airports.

Corruption continues to undermine law enforcement and judicial efforts against drug-related crime and is a major barrier to more effective counternarcotics actions.

The GOJ does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of narcotics or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. The GOJ has a policy of investigating credible reports of public corruption and prosecutes individuals who are linked by reliable evidence to drug-related activity. The GOJ has not prosecuted any senior GOJ officials for drug-related activities. In December 2002, Parliament approved the implementing regulations for the Corruption (Prevention) Act, and, in March 2003, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption was established. The Commission is responsible for reviewing declarations of income, assets and liabilities from all public servants earning $40,000 and above, all members of the JCF and JDF and those working in immigration, Customs, and revenue collection. Review of the declarations, which were due April 30, is ongoing. Jamaica is a party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and signed the consensus agreement on establishing a mechanism to evaluate compliance with the Convention.

The JDF has a "zero tolerance" policy on involvement in drug-related activity by its members. The JCF conducts drug testing of recruits at their initial physical exam but does not have a random drug testing policy. Police officers are often transferred if there is suspicion, but no proof, of involvement in drug-related activity. There are a number of on-going investigations into alleged drug-related corruption involving police personnel.

Jamaica has a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) and an extradition treaty with the U.S. Both countries utilize the MLAT to combat illegal narcotics trafficking and other crimes. The U.S. and Jamaica have a reciprocal asset sharing agreement that provides for the sharing of forfeited assets where law enforcement cooperation has made possible the forfeiture of proceeds from criminal activity. Jamaica is a party to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty among the Commonwealth States. A U.S.-Jamaica maritime counternarcotics cooperation agreement came into force in 1998. On October 15, Jamaica signed the Caribbean Regional Maritime Agreement. In September, Jamaica ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on trafficking in persons, migrant smuggling and firearms. Jamaica is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1972 Protocol amending the Single Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

Jamaica is the largest Caribbean producer and exporter of cannabis. There is no accurate estimate of the amount of cannabis under cultivation or the number of harvests per year. The lack of crop survey data and baseline figures makes it impossible to quantify the effect of GOJ eradication efforts on the total crop. JCF Narcotics Division staff state, however, that the absence of a sustained eradication effort for several years, owing to a lack of manpower and equipment, has resulted in an increase in cannabis cultivation. As a matter of policy, Jamaica does not use herbicides to eradicate cannabis. Manual cutting is the primary eradication method.

Jamaica continues to be the leading transshipment point in the Caribbean for South American cocaine en route to the U.S. The GOJ estimates that over 110 metric tons of cocaine are transshipped through Jamaica each year, with approximately 70 percent of this amount destined for the U.S. and the remainder for the UK. Cocaine arrives in Jamaica from Colombia's north coast primarily via go-fast boats. Smugglers use a variety of means to transport cocaine from Jamaica to the U.S. and other markets, including light aircraft, go-fast boats, commercial shipping containers, and couriers who board airlines or cruise ships with ingested or concealed drugs. Smugglers are increasingly using the area surrounding the Pedro Cays as a staging/re-supply point for go-fast vessels traveling from Colombia to Mexico. Colombian drug cartels are known to have established command and control centers in Jamaica to direct their illicit operations. The "Colombianization" of the Jamaican drug trade is of great concern to the GOJ.

Cannabis is the drug most frequently abused in Jamaica. The use of both powder cocaine and crack cocaine is increasing, in part due to the increasing availability of both forms of the drug on the island. Consumption of cocaine, heroin and cannabis is illegal. The possession and use of ecstasy (MDMA) is controlled under the Food and Drug Act, not the Dangerous Drug Act, and is subject to relatively light penalties. Jamaica has several active demand reduction programs. The U.S. continued to provide assistance for a Ministry of Health/National Council on Drug Abuse program that uses printed materials to discourage drug use among Jamaica’s youth and to support the NGO Addiction Alert’s activities. The UNODC works directly with the GOJ and NGOs to improve demand reduction efforts.

In November 2003, a joint select committee of Parliament voted to accept the recommendations of the National Commission on Ganja’s 2001 report that call for the decriminalization of cannabis for adults who use small quantities for private, personal use and for religious purposes; an intensive demand reduction program aimed at youth; intensified interdiction of large-scale cannabis cultivation and all illegal drugs; and diplomatic efforts to urge a re-examination of the status of cannabis. The recommendations have been sent to the full Parliament for consideration.

The U.S. and Jamaica cooperate in a variety of areas, including maritime drug interdiction, the apprehension of fugitives, and community-police relations. U.S. law enforcement agencies note that cooperation with the GOJ is generally good and is steadily improving. The JDF Coast Guard (JDFCG) engages in cooperative operational planning with the U.S. Coast Guard on an intermittent basis associated with joint military operations in or near Jamaica's territorial waters. During 2003, Jamaica participated in three deployments of Operation Rip Tide, a continuing U.S./Jamaica/Cayman Islands (UK) effort to deny smugglers the use of maritime smuggling routes into Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. The bilateral maritime counternarcotics agreement was successfully exercised on several occasions during 2003. In July, the U.S. and Jamaica negotiated a protocol to the bilateral agreement that adds provisions for shiprider operations from third party platforms, enhancement of safety for civil aircraft in flight, contiguous zone jurisdiction, and expedited delivery of technical assistance. The Protocol entered into force on February 6, 2004.

The JDF currently lacks the force projection capabilities (fixed-wing aircraft and off-shore patrol boats) required to make continuous joint operations with the U.S. a practical activity. To augment JDFCG assets, the U.S. in March 2003 donated to the JDFCG three 42-foot fast patrol boats capable of intercepting go-fast boats. The boats have had only limited operational effect due to a combination of design and maintenance issues. In 2002, the GOJ assigned for two years two JDFCG crew members to the Caribbean Support Tender, a U.S. Coast Guard vessel with a multi-national crew that provides training and assistance in ship maintenance and repairs to Caribbean maritime forces.

In 2003, the U.S. funded participation by Jamaican police, immigration, customs, defense force and other personnel in several in-country and regional training courses. The U.S. is funding an advisor to the NIB and a Law Enforcement Development Advisor to assist the JCF's strategic planning efforts. The USG supports the highly effective Jamaica Fugitive Apprehension Team (JFAT) with guidance from U.S. Marshals, specialized training, equipment and operational support. The JFAT is actively working on over 200 cases, the majority involving drug or homicide charges. Ten fugitives were extradited to the U.S. in 2003. Jamaican authorities are receptive to and cooperative with U.S. requests for extradition, and are working with U.S. authorities to accelerate the extradition process. An overburdened court system combined with the appeals process available to criminal defendants means that contested extradition requests can take two to five years to litigate fully.

In November 2002, the U.S. and GOJ signed an agreement under which the U.S. provided $2.2 million for a border control project to strengthen the GOJ's ability to monitor the flow of persons into and through Jamaica. The project, which will modernize the computer infrastructure at the ports of entry and provide training and technical assistance, is currently being implemented. USAID has undertaken a program of assistance to the JCF in community-police relations that will focus on strategies to reduce crime and violence.

The GOJ has taken steps to protect itself against drug trafficking and other types of organized crime. However, the GOJ needs to intensify its law enforcement efforts and enhance international cooperation. The U.S. will continue to provide equipment, technical assistance and training to assist the GOJ to improve its drug interdiction, cannabis eradication, and demand reduction efforts. Through the provision of vessels, equipment and training for the JDFCG, the U.S. will work to strengthen Jamaica's maritime interdiction efforts. The U.S. is also committed to continued support for the JCF’s Narcotics Division, vetted unit, NIB, and JFAT as well as the CET with specialized training and equipment. In addition, the U.S. will work closely with the police and public prosecutors to enhance the GOJ's ability to identify, investigate, and successfully prosecute significant drug traffickers.

Modern anticrime legislation, including passage of all of the proposed legislation contained in the 2002 reform package and amendments to strengthen the Interception of Communications Act, is necessary in order to investigate, arrest and successfully prosecute drug traffickers and other criminals. The passage of a civil asset forfeiture law could materially assist GOJ counternarcotics operations by providing an alternate source of vehicles, small boats and aircraft for Jamaican law enforcement agencies and the military. The GOJ should also revise its drug legislation to provide adequate penalties for the trafficking and use of internationally controlled psychotropic substances and substances whose molecules have similar chemical properties. The USG is willing to provide technical assistance to the GOJ as it works to strengthen existing laws and draft new legislation.


Internet research assisted by Josh Berke

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