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.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

GUATEMALA / 26 MAR 2014

A new report from a US researcher examines the performance of Guatemala's national police force, finding that despite a…

GUATEMALA / 30 DEC 2014

Guatemala's private sector has hired former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani to come up with a security plan to fight…

MEXICO / 10 OCT 2016

The Mexican government's most recent annual survey of crime victimization rates and perceptions of security shows little improvement -- and…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…