JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of National Security launched a three-pronged crime prevention strategy, ‘United for Change’ which seeks to rekindle hope in the society and mobilise law-abiding citizens.
  • A number of legislation were passed as the Government intensified efforts to protect the investments of citizens.
  • The Government continued its efforts to stem money laundering, which also impacts on person’s ability to engage in legitimate business.

The Government intensified its efforts throughout the past year, to make the country safer, so that citizens can carry out their day-to-day activities in comfort and security.

This was in keeping with the administration’s strategic priorities for 2013/14 and beyond, focusing on improved security and safety, which seeks to preserve and enhance a secure and protective environment to facilitate individual pursuits and economic/investment activities.

In December, the Ministry of National Security launched a three-pronged crime prevention strategy, ‘United for Change’ which seeks to rekindle hope in the society and mobilise law-abiding citizens to work together as a united front against crime.

The programme, which will run for four to five years, is a US$55 million intervention, funded by the Canadian and British governments, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting said the initiative is founded on the strategies of interrupting crime, particularly gang activities; preventing the spread of these activities; and changing group behaviours.

Among the innovations being developed to empower citizens in the fight against crime, is a mobile application, to be launched by the end of January 2014, which will offer Jamaicans the opportunity to engage several modes of alerting the police, reporting crime, or to seek assistance.

The National Security Ministry and law enforcement have already been employing various strategies, which are aimed at bringing about greater citizen participation and collaboration among all stakeholders, in the fight against crime.

The interruption in the transmission of crime strategy is already underway with the launch of Operation Resilience, which is aimed at disrupting negative activities and trends.

Mr. Bunting pointed to some of the results that have so far emerged from this operation, including: 426 operations across the island (mainly targeting gangs); 195 arrests; and the seizure of 142 firearms in October, the highest number for 2013. Importantly, he noted, the majority (63 per cent) of these recoveries were made without the use of deadly force.

A number of legislation were passed as the Government intensified efforts to protect the investments of citizens.

The Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act, which seeks to stem the illegal lottery scam, was passed in the House of Representatives on March 26 after being approved by the Senate on March 21.

Referred to as the ‘Lotto Bill’, the Act makes specific provisions for offences relating to advanced fee fraud and other fraudulent transactions.  It addresses, among other things: obtaining any property or inducing any person to confer any benefit on any person by false pretence; inviting or otherwise inducing a person to visit Jamaica for the purpose of committing an offence under the Act; and knowingly conducting a financial transaction with the proceeds of an offence.

It also makes provision for powers of search, seizure, restitution and for guilty persons to be fined and sentenced to a term of imprisonment for up to 25 years.

Over the past year, the Government has conducted several major operations, and under the law, up to September 2013, approximately 50 persons were arrested and charged under the Act.

The Government continued its efforts to stem money laundering, which also impacts on person’s ability to engage in legitimate business.

In this vein, amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) were approved in October. The legislation will provide for the forfeiture of the assets of persons found to have accumulated wealth through criminal means.

The Act now places a $1 million limit on cash transactions with financial institution and facilitates the addition of an oversight regime for non-financial businesses and professions.

Another piece of legislation in line with the Government’s efforts to keep the country safe, the Anti-gang Bill, was tabled in Parliament with the decision taken to allow a Joint Select Committee of Parliament to review the Bill.

Other pieces of legislation to be brought through Parliament include the DNA Evidence Bill, which is in the final stages of review by various stakeholders. When passed into law it will allow the authorities to take DNA samples from persons arrested for specified offences.

The administration also made it clear that Jamaica would not tolerate human traffickers, who jeopardize the safety of citizens and visitors, and in July, passed the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) (Amendment) Act to provide harsher penalties for the crime and to expand the list of offences under the law.

Under the amendments to the Act, convicted persons can be imprisoned for up to 20 years, with provision for the court to impose an additional 10 years if the offender commits any other offence while trafficking persons. The legislation also increases from 10 to 20 years, the period of imprisonment for persons, who knowingly receive financial or other benefits from trafficking in persons.

There is also provision for a new offence of conspiracy, which is punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years and/or fine. The law also makes stipulation for the granting of restitution for victims, while the definition of “exploitation” has been expanded to include debt bondage which is a form of human trafficking.

The amended Act, which is intended to bring Jamaica in line with international obligations, will allow the country to improve its standing in the United States (US) State Department’s Trafficking in Persons. Jamaica, this year, was upgraded from the US State Department’s Tier 2 watch list to Tier 2.

The Organised Crime Investigative Division (OCID), reported that between January and September, 24 victims of human trafficking were rescued while 213 raids conducted.

The Government, during the year, also reiterated its commitment to securing the island’s ports of entry.

Speaking at a handing over ceremony for the newly refurbished Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) police station in Kingston in September, Mr. Bunting said the Ministry and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) continue to recruit police personnel “at good pace” for deployment to the island’s ports. This move, he notes, has among other things, resulted in an increase in the quantity of narcotics intercepted, and interdictions this year.

Police Commissioner, Owen Ellington, who also spoke at the ceremony, advised that the JCF recently revamped the structure for its ports security portfolio.

Engagement in local and international collaboration in the fight against crime was also another key strategy in ensuring citizens’ safety, as during the year, the Governments of Jamaica and Cuba announced plans to craft new agreements to combat drug trafficking and other transnational crimes affecting the region.

Additionally, the National Security Ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding with 18 Government agencies to share information for the Jamaica Crime Observatory – a web-based crime and violence statistics databank.