Media Center



June 6, 2011 - San Salvador, El Salvador

Dialogue: Citizen Security in the Americas
Your Excellency Hugo Martinez, President of the General Assembly
Your Excellency, Secretary Generallnsulza
Colleague Ministers,
Distinguished Representatives, All

• Let me begin by expressing my profound appreciation to the Government and people of EI Salvador for the warm hospitality extended to my delegation since our arrival in this beautiful and historic city of San Salvador.

• May I also use this opportunity to convey, Mr. President, my heartiest congratulations and very best wishes to you on your assumption of the Presidency of the General Assembly.

Challenges to National Security in the Region
Mr. President,

• Challenges to international peace and security continue to overwhelm societies and create socio-economic disruptions. In fact, as we meet here today in San Salvador, we are all painfully aware that organized crime syndicates are no doubt moving freely, quickly and stealthily across our borders, some powerfully motivated by greed and financial gains and who recruit vulnerable young people from among the disadvantaged communities.

• The manifestations of their activities are evident in the inextricable link between narcotic drugs and small arms trafficking, money laundering, the presence of criminal gangs and a seemingly intractable rate of violence in the region. In addition, the region is currently faced with other fairly new security concerns such as cyber crimes and new aspects of terrorism.

• The selection of the theme "Citizen Security in the Americas" for this year's General Assembly is therefore not only timely but extremely relevant.

The Draft Declaration
Mr. President,

• The draft Declaration of San Salvador calls upon countries, inter alia, to "develop and implement public policies in the area of public security in the framework of a democratic order where the rule of law and observance of human rights prevail, geared towards providing security and strengthening peaceful coexistence in our communities". This is quite critical in how we seek to address the multidimensional scope of crime which includes traditional and new threats, and other challenges to the security of the states of the Hemisphere.

• The Draft Declaration is consistent with the essential purposes of the OAS, as outlined in its Charter, and is certainly in line with Jamaica's position on taking a holistic approach to addressing crime and security, as well as the priority we place on improved regional and international cooperation for national security.

Jamaica's Response
• However, Mr. President, there is a very grave reality before us that we need to urgently discuss and address in a collaborative effort as a Hemisphere.

• For our part, statistics indicate that 75 percent (%) of all the homicides committed in Jamaica involve the use of a firearm. The prevalence of illegal firearms, which is as a result of the "guns-for drugs trade" is perpetrating crime and violence and has resulted in the loss of lives, human suffering and the spread of fear and insecurity in our society.

• The Government of Jamaica therefore understands and takes very seriously the issue of public and citizen security. Jamaica continues to intensify its efforts to fight and prevent crime and violence in the Jamaican society by, inter alia, providing the appropriate policy framework and support, an enabling legislative agenda and the acquisition and further upgrade of modern technology for the national security apparatus. Jamaica has taken a holistic approach to crime-fighting which involves the promotion of public education initiatives, capacity building, human rights training for law enforcers, restorative justice, and targeted crime fighting measures.

• In addition Mr. President, the Government of Jamaica through the Ministry of National Security, has developed a National Crime Prevention and Community Safety Strategy. This has been developed in accordance with Jamaica's National Development Plan entitled Vision 2030.

• Work has also advanced on strengthening the legislative tools available to the criminal justice system. The law enforcement apparatus has been significantly enhanced with the promulgation of critical amendments to six pieces of legislation that will assist the police and prosecutors in their crime-fighting efforts.

• Additionally, the Government of Jamaica has formulated an Anti-Gang Legislation, targeting criminal organizations which have been at the heart of the criminal threat facing the country. There are a number of other anti-crime legislative initiatives pending, key among which are the proposals to repeal and replace the Firearms Act, including merging the Gunpowder and Explosive Act with the New Firearms legislation.

• We have indeed benefited from our Membership in the OAS especially in the technical assistance that we have gained and, Mr. President, I wish to use this opportunity to convey Jamaica's appreciation to the OAS for its continued support, commitment and cooperation to Member States. The OAS in its sustained efforts to assist Jamaica in meeting its international obligations recently committed to provide Jamaica with two Dot Peen markers to be used in the marking of Firearms, as well as to provide technical support for the marking machine after it is acquired. In addition, Jamaica has been able to gain useful ideas and support in relation to crime-fighting from our active 3 engagement and participation in meetings of the various OAS bodies such the InterAmerican Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) and the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM).

• Mr. President, my Government is aware of the profound and adverse impact that criminal gangs and organized groups have had on the security and stability of countries in our region. Jamaica therefore supports the work of the Technical Working Group to promote Hemispheric Cooperation in dealing with Criminal Gangs by sharing our experience with the Working Group dealing with this issue, focusing always on framing a multidimensional response to the challenge of gangs in our midst.

• Mr. President, Jamaica is beginning to yield good results from the various crime-fighting initiatives, as recent official figures indicate that there has been a marked reduction of 42 percent (%) in murders this year compared to the corresponding period last year. There has also been a reduction in most other crimes compared to the same period last year. This reduction has also been attributed to greater partnerships between the police and civic groups in implementing strategies to enhance the safety and security of communities.

• In keeping with our national development objectives, Jamaica will continue to pay special attention to the promotion and protection of human rights, including in relation to vulnerable groups such as women and children; combating the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons; and highlighting the peculiar concerns and challenges faced by highly indebted, middle-income countries like Jamaica.

• Jamaica is committed to ensuring that the rights of all individuals are fully respected and upheld. We, therefore, are determined to address the challenges and constraints which impact the extent to which the human rights guarantees of our Constitution can be implemented. In this regard, the Parliament of Jamaica recently passed the Charter of Rights which places on the State an obligation to promote the universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms for all persons in Jamaica and affords protection to the rights and freedoms of persons as set out in those provisions. The 4 Charter of Rights also dictates that Parliament shall pass no law and establish no organ of the state which abrogates, abridges or infringes the fundamental rights of citizens.

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues,

• There is little doubt that rising crime and levels of violence are common and continue to present major threats to governance and human development in the region. Far too many of our economies have been negatively affected by the scourge of crime.

• Jamaica shares your view and that of Secretary General Insulza on the importance of international collaboration and a "comprehensive transnational approach" in the fight against citizen insecurity. It would be foolhardy to assume that we can unilaterally fight this scourge. It is extremely important and in the best interest of our respective countries and citizens that we share our various experiences, harmonize our operations and legislative frameworks and pool our various resources in order to tackle the multidimensional threat to our region.

• We must reinforce the mutually beneficial relationships among us. It is the only way to achieve peace and security, and economic and social progress for all. The promotion and protection of human rights and the rule of law will be indispensable to that process.

• Jamaica will continue to accord the highest national and regional priority to the issue of security and will continue to work with the OAS and all Member States for the safety and security of all citizens in the hemisphere.

Thank you Mr. President.