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Cablegate: Jamaica: Crime and Corruption Challenges Facing

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKG #1462/01 2681614
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 251614Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINGSTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5395
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 1153
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0499
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0382
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 2905
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L KINGSTON 001462

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR - JOE TILGHMAN
STATE DS/DSS,DS/IP/WHA,DS/IP/TA
TREASURY FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS - SARA GRAY
JUSTICE FOR OPDAT - ROBERT LIPMAN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/24/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV SOCI SNAR PHUM ASEC KCOR KCRM KJUS
SUBJECT: JAMAICA: CRIME AND CORRUPTION CHALLENGES FACING
THE NEW GOVERNMENT OF PRIME MINISTER BRUCE GOLDING

REF: A. KINGSTON 1445 (201732Z SEP 07)(NOTAL)

B. 06 KINGSTON 2021 (121230Z OCT 06)(NOTAL)

Classified By: Charge' James T. Heg, Reasons 1.5 (b) and (d)

Overview and Conclusion
-------------------------

1.(C) This second of several cables outlining challenges
facing the new Government of Prime Minister (PM) Bruce
Golding's Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) focuses on the
deep-seated problems of crime and corruption. During his
electoral campaign and in his inaugural address, Golding
promised his government would have the political will to
tackle crime, violence, and corruption. These assertions now
will be tested severely:

(A) with murders up an alarming 17 percent thus far in 2007,
Jamaica looks set once again to top the charts as the world's
homicide capital;

(B) with his government facing a USD 260 million current year
deficit and a debt-to-GDP ratio approaching 140 percent
(Reftel A), it is unknown how Golding can keep his promise to
bring the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) up to full
strength (8,500), and meet the promise of the previous
administration to grant police officers a 40 hour work week;

(C) after 18 years in power, the outgoing senior officials of
the People's National Party (PNP) would be likely targets of
any corruption investigations-- the PM thus can expect little
cooperation from the PNP Opposition in Parliament, where his
own ruling JLP enjoys only a narrow majority; whether Golding
will be able to muster sufficient support to pass legislation
needed to accomplish his anti-corruption goals remains
unclear.
End Overview and Conclusion.

Crime and Violence
------------------

2.(SBU) In his inaugural address, PM Golding promised to make
the reduction of crime a priority of his government. His
stated goal is to create a country where "Jamaicans can feel
safe and secure." Golding has taken the reins three-quarters
of the way through a year in which Jamaica looks to again top
the charts as the murder capital of the world. In 2006, the
Jamaica Constabulary Force was able to reduce the murder rate
by nearly 10 percent but crime statistics released on
September 16, indicate that murders for 2007 are up by 17
percent over 2006 numbers. Of note is that there are twice
as many reported gang-related murders this year vis-Q-vis the
same time last year, and island wide the clearance rate
remains a low 34 percent. (Note: Clearance rates in the
Kingston Area are only 31 percent). For other violent crimes
it is a mixed bag, shootings are up 13 percent over last
year, but the categories of rape, sexual abuse of children,
and robbery all show decreases, -1 percent, -6 percent, and
-27 percent, respectively. (Note: Jamaica was recently
cited in a UN/World Bank report as having the third worst
incidence of rape in the world).

3.(SBU) On September 19, the new Minister of National
Security, Derrick Smith, announced a reinvigoration of "hot
spot" policing and increased use of check points and traffic
stops in troubled neighborhoods to quell the murder rate.
This is a strategy that current Deputy Commissioner of
Police, Mark Shields has been urging the government to adopt
for months. It appears that recent headline articles about
August being the third bloodiest month this year have gotten
Minister Smith's attention.

4.(C) In addition to being under-staffed and under-paid, the
Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is known to be rife with
corruption. In its last months in office, the previous
government began a strategic review of the JCF, the third
such review to occur in the last five years. It appears that
Golding's new Minister of National Security will continue
this review. Even if the review is as comprehensive and
honest as promised, it remains to be seen whether the Golding

government will have the muscle to push forward the
legislative changes required to enable the imposition of a
rational personnel system, with adequate provisions to
discipline and remove underperforming and corrupt cops from
the force. Because many senior leaders within the JCF,
including its Commissioner, have been identified by sources
as corrupt, in reality, without a complete housecleaning of
the JCF leadership, no real change will occur.

5.(C) In a September 19 meeting between NAS Director and
Senior Ministry of National Security officials, the Special
Advisor on Policy, Anne-Marie Barnes, indicated that the new
Minister holds a dim view of Senior leadership within the JCF
and said she anticipates efforts to change the leadership
from the top down. This will not be an easy task for the
Police Services Commission, which is the legal entity
responsible for the hiring, disciplining, and firing of
senior police officers. Commission board members have
indicated on numerous occasions that they hoped to Q&retire
in the public interestQ8 senior members of the JCF, to
include Commissioner Thomas. However, recent court rulings
have declared that retirement in the public interest is
beyond the mandate of the PSC, thus effectively tying its
hands. How Minister Smith now plans to remove corrupt and
ineffective leadership seems unclear. Given the lucrative
parallel income stream that most senior members enjoy, it
appears highly unlikely that they would opt to voluntarily
resign from the JCF.

6.(SBU) In addition, how Golding will keep his promise to
bring the Jamaica Constabulary Force up to full strength
(8,500), and meet the promise of the previous administration
to grant police officers a 40 hour work week, when his
government is already facing a J$ 18 billion current year
deficit (USD 260 million) is unknown.

Corruption
----------

7.(U) Golding also promised to make "transparency and
accountability in government and the elimination of
corruption a priority." According to Golding a "new
framework" for good governance is at the "top of our agenda."
To do so, Golding proposed several specific initiatives,
which all require legislative and some constitutional changes:

-- Imposition of criminal sanctions for violations of
government contracting rules and procedures;

-- Creation of a Special Prosecutor to investigate and
prosecute corruption; and,

-- Passage of legislation to protect whistleblowers, and
enable the removal of public officials guilty of "misconduct,
corruption, abuse of authority, or betrayal of public trust."


8.(SBU) There already exists a grab bag of toothless
organizations to combat corruption in Jamaica-- the
Contractor General, which is the government watchdog on
public contracting, and the Commission for the Prevention of
Corruption, a sub-organ for the Ministry of Justice, to name
two. Neither of these organizations has its own independent
budget, nor does either have adequate staff or investigative
resources. As was evident in the Trafigura scandal, which
broke in the fall of 2006 (Reftel B), the Contractor General
can make headlines, but is unable to do more. The Commission
for the Prevention of Corruption's main task seems to be the
collection of financial disclosure statements from public
officials. However, once collected, the statements are kept
confidential; for example, the Financial Investigative

SIPDIS
Division's requests for review of these documents to verify
"reported income" versus what it has uncovered in
money-laundering investigations are categorically refused.

9.(C) To remediate the problem and give anti-corruption
efforts teeth, Golding's new government has already begun
exploring a long-standing JLP promise to establish a special
prosecutor for anti-corruption. According to the JSP former
Shadow Minister, now Speaker of the House, Delroy Chuck,

ideally this prosecutor would have to be independent of the
Office of the Public Prosecutor. The current head of the
Office of the Public Prosecutor has stated that setting up an
independent Special Prosecutor is not possible without
constitutional change, and he seems thoroughly opposed to the
notion, probably believing that such an entity would reduce
his office's power. His view regarding the need for
constitutional change is shared by senior leadership within
the Ministry of National Security, whose opinions may also be
colored by the fact that creation of such a prosecutor would
dilute the Ministry's control over a key national security
matter.

10.(SBU) After 18 years in power, the outgoing senior PNP
government officials are likely targets of any corruption
investigations. Golding thus can expect little cooperation
from PNP opposition members, while his ruling JLP enjoys only
a narrow parliamentary majority. Whether Golding will be
able to muster sufficient parliamentary support to pass the
necessary legislation to accomplish his anti-corruption goals
remains unclear. Without outside financial assistance, the
Jamaican Government is unlikely to have the financial
resources necessary to provide budgets for these
organizations to fund quality vetted investigative staff.

11.(C) Golding's own party leadership and the JLP's political
supporters are not without their own bad apples. The new
Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime
Minister, James Robertson, is involved in unspecified
criminal activity, according to the local UK High Commission.
In addition, Christopher Coke, a known drug don, has been a
financial backer of the JLP. Golding has told us privately
that he wants to isolate and remove tainted individuals from
involvement in the JLP. However, to do so, he needs more
than just rumors. He has approached the Embassy in the past
for information on suspect individuals. How the USG would be
able to assist Golding with evidence of wrongdoing on the
part of party members and/or supporters bears consideration.

12.(SBU) According to a recent report by the Jamaican Justice
System Reform Project, even if the Special Prosecutor's
office is established, it would have difficulty moving cases
through the Jamaican Judicial system: a broken institution
with clogged dockets, inadequate infrastructure, overburdened
and underperforming judges, and an inability to seat juries
and protect witnesses.

13.(SBU) Conclusion: Golding understands that the missing
piece is not necessarily resources; it is political will.
During his campaign as well as in his inaugural address, he
promised that his government would have the political will to
tackle crime, violence, and corruption. These assertions now
will be tested severely. End Conclusion.
HEG

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