HomeNewsBriefJamaica to Initiate Security Crackdown as Murders Surge
BRIEF

Jamaica to Initiate Security Crackdown as Murders Surge

CARIBBEAN / 26 JUL 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

Jamaica has passed a law allowing the army and police to launch special operations in crime hotspots following a spike in murders, but this aggressive security strategy shifts away from more preventive measures and may facilitate security force abuses.

On July 19, Jamaica enacted the Zones of Special Operation (ZOSO) Act, which gives the Prime Minister the power to declare special operation zones in areas identified as having high crime rates, gang presence and violence on the advice of the National Security Council, the Jamaica Gleaner reported

After the zones are established, a joint command of police and military forces will have the authority to establish a "cordon around or within the Zone" for no longer than 24 hours, or a "curfew ... not exceeding 72 hours," during which citizens must stay inside their homes. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Security Policy

Additionally, the joint force "may search any place, vehicle or person within a Zone, without a warrant" if there is suspicion that a crime has been or may be committed. During the searches, authorities can seize any "vehicle, article or document" that may be "of substantial value" in an investigation, with few exceptions.

While conducting operations in these designated zones, agents must register all weapons with the National Security Ministry and are required to wear body cameras. 

Some of the ZOSO Act's measures also focus on improving social issues. After a special zone has been declared, the Prime Minister will establish a Social Intervention Committee to assess the area's needs, create a socio-economic development plan and help implement government intervention programs.

InSight Crime Analysis

With Jamaica's murder rate on track to hit a seven-year high, the country seems to be caught in between two different security strategies. On one hand, social programs including educational courses for at-risk students, or law enforcement initiatives such as the "Get the Guns" campaign launched in 2015 to intercept illegal firearms, address some of the root causes of growing insecurity.

But while the ZOSO Act does include preventive measures, it is also a shift towards more aggressive tactics, including the deployment of the military onto the streets. The use of excessive force by Jamaican security forces is already a serious problem, and the new law may well facilitate future human rights abuses against civilians.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Jamaica

Canute Thompson, the head of the Caribbean Centre for Educational Planning, has described the new security measures as "outdated," simply providing "Band-Aid therapy" to vulnerable areas rather than representing a "sustainable reduction" plan.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 7 AUG 2017

There are stars in security and law enforcement just as there are in the ranks of organized crime, and Julián…

BARRIO 18 / 20 JAN 2020

El Salvador has ended 2019 with its lowest murder rate in years. But though the government has taken credit for…

CARIBBEAN / 18 JAN 2016

Cuba has reported minimal drug seizures in 2015, but as the Caribbean island and the United States re-establish relations,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…