Archive for the ‘2009’ Tag
School kids in Spanish Town are waiting around for special cool buses to get to school in the mornings. These are the buses playing the music they like at loud volume and also have tinted glass so there are fears that there might be sex going on, on there. It’s causing a log jam in Spanish Town in the mornings, to the extent that the police are involved – trying to get the kids to get on any transport to get them to school.
The so called “sex bus” has been in the headlines on a number of occasions – Vybz Kartel sang a song about it – and there were claims of sexual activity on buses in 2006. The practise of “lapping up” on packed buses where you have to sit on other peoples’ laps might have something to do with it (or not).
I prefer the buses playing the loud music myself, I have to say. Better atmosphere!
In defense of the reputation of Jamaica’s buses, I would like to post this link to the bashy bus which is about spreading the AIDS awareness message.
I know men who have sex with men but they hide that homosexuality by publicly having relationships (and sex) with women. It’s called being on the down-low.
She’s also concerned that the new bill is going to legalise sex between men.
What I don’t appreciate about bi-sexual men or men on the down-low is the deceit and the general pain and hurt that will inevitably come about from their actions. However hard it is, surely it is better to be open about your sexual status than to hide it in this horrible web of lies? Jamaican society should help them to be open rather than maintaining the hypocrisy and pretending that it doesn’s exist by driving these men further down on the down-low.
I know two people personally who have been shot and killed by police in Jamaica. Those sons are still mourned terribly by their mothers and the pain of missing them does not go away ever in their families, no matter how many years go by.
Amnesty International’s new report says that there were 222 people killed by the police. They give a couple of examples -like 13 year old Jevaughn Robinson who was shot in the head.
They also report that 655 women were raped between Jan -Oct 2008 and then there’s the usual discrimination against gay people.
In all these cases, government action is stalled – legislation which could help do something about these things is stuck in Parliament. I wonder if Jamaica will ever get to grips with these long standing problems.
If I had the job of solving Jamaica’s crime problem, I would not be spending money that Jamaica does not have, to buy cars for the (largely corrupt) police.
But that is what the new National Security minister, Dwight Nelson is doing.
He’s been in the job for three weeks and has listed his priorities for dealing with a crazy crime rate, see JA’s murder figures in this blog post. And here’s another post I wrote about the jump in robberies.
To be fair to the man, he also says he is going to talk to ordinary Jamaicans and ask them what to do – a good starting point, but rather than go into the communities where they live and seeing the reality first hand, he’s meeting people in a new “civic centre” in MoBay.
More police are required yes, (a 1 to 300 ratio is not great), but training them and rooting out corruption and getting a justice system that works is key – rather than investing in some state of the art forensics lab – most people know who did the shooting Nelson – it’s just they don’t want to tell the police.
I read something today that I find pretty unbelievable.
Most people know that Jamaica has a pretty high rate of pregnancy among teenage girls. But what I find out from this article is that nearly half of them are forced into it.
Girls are telling these researchers that they were verbally and physically forced to do it. I think a fair number of those may be regretting the pregnancy and perhaps some of them are trying to shift the blame so as not to look too bad about wanting to have sex. I don’t know, but I’d be interested in finding out. Is this about how men are treating women in Jamaica generally?
One thing I do know is that the government are not doing too much about educating young people about using condoms – they have stopped distributing in schools but are supposed to be re-directing them to health centres. Will kids use these services? What are most teenager’s first experiences of sex and why aren’t they paranoid about AIDS?
So many questions, so few answers.
Prime Minister Golding is putting his loving hand out to the International Monetary Fund for a loan to help Jamaica’s struggling economy.
It’s with a clear sense of desperation that he’s doing this; he’s reported as saying the factors that are leading down this path are : the markets are not lending any money, downturn in bauxite and tourism, reduction in remittances.
The last time Jamaica got help from the IMF was not a great thing. The list of conditions and strings attached, crippled the local economy through cuts in public spending which hurt the poor. Throughout the 1970′s and 80′s, the loans mounted up and growth stayed low.
Will this time be any different really? It’s supposed to be thinking differently - the IMF I mean, and they have outlined a whole new set of rules based around its’ loans. But the Director of the IMF, Strauss Kahn says that they are “helping” Jamaica with its’ new tax initiatives. Should Jamaica trust the IMF?
I was on the red carpet interviewing artists one year at the MOBOs in London.
I remember speaking to among other artists Wayne Wonder – there was a time in my life that I kept bumping into that guy, I ended up dancing to No Letting Go at my wedding – it spoke to me that song!
The reason why I bring up the MOBOs is to say that are so many duff reggae awards that are handed out on in the world even the well respected Grammy’s is not somewhere to look for recognising new talent and award to the more established and successful artists – 2009 Grammy winner for best reggae album went to Burning Spear for Jah Is Real. Which is not really doing it for me I’m afraid – have a listen here.
This is the reason why a reggae award ceremony happening on May 3rd 2009 is worth writing home about. It is unfortunately happening not in Jamaica the birthplace and home of reggae, but Jamaica, New York - where they can afford to put on a televised event and arrange flights for all the invited artists and also reap the profits that come with it. Jamaica itself is not in a financial position to afford even the annual reggae sumfest as it’s reported that organisers are asking the government to help them with funding. Jamaica and the reggae bailout plan!
It is the Annual International Reggae and World Music Awards and top nominations include Movado, Beres Hammond, Queen Ifrica and Mr Vegas – I’ve been listening to Mus Come A Road all weekend.
Now this is a reggae awards ceremony worth covering.
I went to a restaurant on Saturday and had some wonderful jerk chicken. So spicy and juicy. The best I had in Jamaica was early lunchtime from the oil drum sellers on the road out of Kingston when you head out over the old Indian bridge. And also on Friday nights on the Red Hills Road with some hard dough bread and plenty of ketchup. With some ice cold Ting to wash it all down.
Everyone in the world knows about jerk – but who knows the most and who cooks it the best? Why does it taste better out of an old oil drum?
That seems to be what they are trying to find out the answer to at this Jerk Festival happening on Friday March 20th 2009 in Ocho Rios.
Even the old heavyweight Anthony Worrall Thompson is going to be there for a bit of a cook off. Other people there will be Rupert Bourne of “The Home of Jerk” Boston, and Ocho Rios’ Jerk Specialist, Mark “Max” Miller. There’ll be a blind tasting, before announcing the winner of the Jamaica Jerk Challenge.
Where are the women cooks?
In a recent post, I was talking about the growth in drugs going through the airports within a harsher economic climate, the drugs business is reported to be flourishing. Read that post here.
Now the US state department has released a report on how corruption is undermining efforts at drug control. Read the 2009 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report with regards to Jamaica here ….
What I was saying before was how at the airports, it’s because there’s somebody working there as to why the narcotics are getting through and this report not only confirms that, but that the corruption goes much further and efforts to tackle this are not going anywhere.
The Jamaican government could hurry up and set up a national corruption agency, but it’s stuck in the system – a bill to appoint a Special Prosecutor to try these crimes remains a bill in Parliament despite the Government’s legislative majority. Why is that?
Could it be that the government itself is paralysed by corruption perhaps?
This is an extract from the latest US State department drugs report as regards Jamaica. Read the full report here.
Jamaica remains the Caribbean’s largest source of marijuana for the United States. While the volume of cocaine transit traffic remains lower than its sub-regional neighbors, it is worth noting that the cocaine seizure data from 2008 reflects a significant increase over both 2006 and 2007. In 2008, cooperation between Government of Jamaica (GOJ) and U.S. Government (USG) law enforcement agencies remained strong resulting in drug seizures, arrest of drug-traffickers, and the extradition of a drug kingpin and his co-conspirators. The GOJ’s ambitious legislative anti-corruption and anti-crime agendas announced in 2007 and mid-2008 respectively remain stuck in parliament. In 2008 enforcement of the Proceeds of Crime Act and the Anti-trafficking law enacted in 2007 was less than hoped for. Jamaica is a party to the 1988 United Nations Drug Convention.
II. Status of Country
The majority of the direct export of marijuana to the U.S. is through Jamaica’ busy commercial and cruise ports, and convenient air connections. Consumption of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana is illegal in Jamaica, with marijuana most frequently abused. The possession and use of Ecstasy (MDMA) is controlled by Jamaica’s Food and Drug Act and is currently subject to light, non-criminal penalties. In 2008, an increase in murder and other violent crime by gangs was fueled in part by the “ganja for guns” trade between Jamaica and its neighbors.
III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008
Policy Initiatives/Accomplishments. In 2008 the GOJ failed to pass and effectively implement key anti-crime, anti-corruption, anti-money laundering legislation. This included not establishing a new anti-corruption special prosecutor, not modifying the bail act, and not vigorously implementing the more expeditious seizure and forfeiture process that was enacted in 2007.
The manufacture, sale, transport, and possession of MDMA (Ecstasy), methamphetamine, or the precursor chemicals used to produce them, remains regulated by civil and administrative rather than criminal authorities. The GOJ also did not enact the initiative to permit extended data-sharing between U.S. and Jamaican law enforcement on money laundering cases through the Financial Investigative Division (FID) Act. Additionally, the GOJ’s national forensics laboratory has a backlog of cases due to understaffing and lack of resources. Jamaica is not in full compliance with the Egmont Group requirements.
In 2008, the Ministry of National Security expanded its policy directorate in an effort to increase efficiency. In 2008, the GOJ expanded the vetting of senior police officers. This effort combined with other reforms as mandated by the GOJ-approved Police Strategic Review, should begin to turn around a police force that is plagued by corruption and inefficiencies.
The USG Container Security and MegaPorts (CSI) initiative began in late 2006. In 2008, construction began on a permanent facility for U.S. officers and their Jamaican counterparts. Pervasive corruption at Kingston’s container and bulk terminals continue to undermine the CSI team’s activities.
Law Enforcement Efforts. 2008 marked the first year of the new Police Commissioner’s tenure and the beginning by the GOJ to implement reforms recommended in its strategic review of the force. The new Commissioner continues to face internal obstacles in his efforts to reform the police. The Commissioner and the GOJ are grappling with holistic reform at a time when murder and other violent crimes threaten to overwhelm the country. These criminal organizations use proceeds to purchase weapons and further destabilize Jamaica. The U.S. is working cooperatively with the Organized Crime Division to shut down these organizations.
Despite death threats against several of its ministers, in 2008, the GOJ extradited drug trafficker Norris Nembhard and five indicted co-conspirators to the U.S. for prosecution. The very successful Operation Kingfish, a multinational task force (GOJ, U.S., United Kingdom and Canada) to target high profile organized crime gangs, celebrated its fourth anniversary in 2008. The new Police Commissioner combined his National Intelligence Bureau with Kingfish and Special Branch in an effort to gain efficiency. In years’ past, Kingfish was becoming a catch-all investigative entity and worked on cases outside its original mandate. In 2009, Kingfish should return to its core mandate and prioritize the targeting of high- level criminals who command and control gangs in Jamaica. In 2008, the GOJ appointed a known reformer as the new Commissioner of Customs. Since his arrival a “no tolerance” policy against corruption has resulted in the removal or reassignment of a significant number of staff members and an increase in Custom’s revenue by 25 percent. The new Commissioner intends to reinvigorate the Jamaican Custom’s Contraband Enforcement Team (CET) which suffered for years under the previous Customs’ leadership. Given that container traffic through the seaports is believed the primary method of transshipment of cocaine and cannabis it is critical to have a strong CET. In 2008, CET seized 168 kilograms (kg) of cocaine and 5,642 kg of cannabis at Jamaican air and seaports.
Corruption. No senior GOJ officials, nor the GOJ as a matter of policy, encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. However, pervasive public corruption continues to undermine efforts against drug-related and other crimes, and plays a major role in the safe passage of drugs and drug proceeds through Jamaica. For the first time in 2008, corruption ranked second to crime and violence as the area of greatest concern for Jamaicans. Corruption remains a major barrier to improving counternarcotics efforts. The Jamaica Defense Force investigates any reports of corruption, and takes disciplinary action when warranted in furtherance of its zero tolerance policy. A bill creating an Anti-Corruption Special Prosecutor remains stuck in Parliament despite the Government’s legislative majority. There has not been legislative action to create a National Anti-corruption Agency (NIIA), which could satisfy the Inter-American Convention against Corruption’s requirements. In mid-2007, the JCF established a new Anti-Corruption Branch headed by an internationally recruited police officer. Since 2007, the Branch has arrested seventy-one officers on corruption charges. The Branch’s number one task is to target high-level officers for corruption. The GOJ now requires senior police officers to sign employment contracts to improve accountability and facilitate the speedy dismissal of corrupt police officers.
Agreements and Treaties. The extradition treaty between the USG and the GOJ has been actively used, with the vast majority of cases involving requests to Jamaica. Jamaica and the U.S. have a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) in place, which assisted in evidence sharing. The U.S. and Jamaica have a reciprocal asset sharing agreement, and a bilateral law enforcement agreement governing cooperation on stopping the flow of illegal drugs by maritime means. Jamaica is a party to the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. The GOJ signed, but has not ratified, the Caribbean Regional Maritime Counterdrug Agreement. Jamaica is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol. Jamaica is also a party to the UN Convention against Corruption, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three Protocols, and the Inter-American Convention against Corruption.
Cultivation/Production. Exact cultivation levels for marijuana are unknown due to a lack of crop surveys. Marijuana is grown mostly in smaller plots in hilly and rocky terrain and along the tributaries of the Black River in Saint Elizabeth which for most parts is inaccessible to vehicular traffic. Eradication of marijuana was down in 2008, with 423 hectares eliminated, compared with 723 hectares eliminated in 2007. Jamaica uses manual eradication without the use of herbicides.
Drug Flow/Transit. GOJ security forces seized a total of 266 kg of cocaine in 2008. This is triple the amount seized in 2007 (80 kg) and double 2006’s figure (109 kg). Some of the increase can be attributed to a reinvigorated effort to police the air and seaports by GOJ Narcotics police and DEA. In 2008, cocaine smugglers continued to use container cargo transshipments, couriers, checked luggage, and bulk commercial shipments to move cocaine through Jamaica to the United States. There was a noticeable increase by law enforcement in detection of liquid cocaine secreted into consumer goods and luggage. Seizures of compressed marijuana remain as levels commiserate with 2006 & 2007. Marijuana traffickers continue to barter for cocaine and illegal weapons. To combat this trade, the GOJ created a special cell within Operation Kingfish called “Musketeer.”
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. Jamaica has several demand reduction programs, including the Ministry of Health’s National Council on Drug Abuse. U.S. funding supported the provision of books and teaching staff to an inner-city after school program. The GOJ operates five treatment centers through the Ministry of Health. The GOJ/Organization of American States Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) university-level certificate program in drug addiction and drug prevention (funded by INL) enrolled 31 students and graduated 8 students in the 2007-2008 academic year. The United Nations Office Drug Control (UNODC) works directly with the GOJ and NGOs on demand reduction; however, due to limited resources these programs have little impact.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation. There is robust cooperation between U.S. and GOJ officials. In 2008, the U.S provided training and material support to elements of the JCF and JDF to strengthen their counternarcotics, and anti-corruption capabilities and improve the investigation, arrest and prosecution of organized crime. The U.S assisted the GOJ with vetting of specialized units within the JCF. The Jamaica Fugitive Apprehension Team (JFAT) received specialized training, equipment, guidance and operational support from the U.S. Marshals permanently stationed in Kingston. In 2008, the U.S. Marshals opened 80 new cases and closed 132 cases involving U.S. fugitives. Jamaican authorities made 14 arrests, 15 extraditions and 8 deportations during the year. In mid-2008, the USG-funded, Kingston-based Airport Interdiction Task Force continued operations and was instrumental in the increase in cocaine seizures.
The GOJ participated in joint deployments with the USG in Jamaican waters during 2008 under the auspices of “Operation Riptide,” which allow both nations to conduct law enforcement operations within each other’s maritime zones and is authorized under the Joint Jamaica-United States Maritime Cooperation Agreement. The JDF also continued to work with the USG’s Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S) in 2008 to disrupt maritime trafficking. JDF and JCF elements participated in the DEA-led regional exercise “All-Inclusive.” JDF Coast Guard personnel participated in a number of maritime law enforcement, seamanship and specialized technical resident courses in the U.S. in 2008.
Multilateral Cooperation. In 2008 multi-nationals (GOJ, U.S., United Kingdom and Canada) shifted focus to assist the GOJ as it begins implementation of the 124 recommendations of the Police Strategic Review. An additional multi-lateral priority is to assist the Anti-Corruption Branch tackle corruption among senior police officers. The U.S. continues to support the Mini-Dublin Group, and reinvigorated cooperation with the UK and Canada to prevent duplication of efforts and ensure the most effective use of our combined counternarcotics resources.
The Road Ahead. Gang-led violent crime and corruption will continue to pose a significant threat to social stability in Jamaica. The GOJ is exploring legislation to criminalize participation in organized crime gangs. If the difficultly that the GOJ has experienced in 2008 to pass more modest anti-crime legislation is a prelude, passage of RICO-type legislation could be difficult. Passage of RICO or Anti-Corruption Special Prosecutor legislation is not enough, however. So that the GOJ can successfully investigate, prosecute and convict corrupt officials at all levels of government service, we encourage the GOJ to ensure that the Anti-Corruption Special Prosecutor, the JCF Anti-Corruption Branch and the FID are independent, fully resourced and backed by political will. We also encourage the GOJ to support the Commissioner of Police to implement the reform recommendations of the Ministry of National Security’s Strategic Review of the Jamaica Constabulary Force to ensure a professional non-corrupt organization. Finally, the GOJ is encouraged to support the Commissioner of Customs efforts to take action against endemic corruption throughout its customs and revenue service.
The GOJ has requested assistance from its multilateral partners with the creation of a regional forensics training program to increase its own ability to train forensic pathologists, lab technicians and improve throughput at its laboratory. Greater speed and accuracy of forensic testing would greatly assist the GOJ in investigating violent crime. To better track, and intercept narcotics and weapons being smuggled into and through Jamaica, the GOJ should work to improve its port, border, and passport security to allow for real-time data collection and profiling of offenders and vessels. The GOJ should also look to foster greater sub-regional cooperation with Hispaniola, and the Bahamas in an effort to collect better intelligence on the gangs that move contraband between their borders.