Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Jamaica tightening up at the border with new MOU

Published:Friday | January 20, 2017 | 1:00 AMJason Cross

Realising that international partners are in no way responsible for the safety and security of Jamaica, its waters, or its borders, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with the Customs Agency of Jamaica, has made another big step towards tightening loose ends at the island's ports of entry and within its territorial waters.

Both agencies will now engage in a series of interconnected and inter-related operations, during which they will be required to provide support for each other in areas of specific functions and strengths.

National Security Minister Robert Montague said that his ministry would continue to go all out to improve the nation's security level.

"Jamaica has to take responsibility for our safety and security. We cannot depend on our partners to provide us with our security. The Government has taken a very conscious decision to invest heavily in national security. We have to take seriously the protection of our borders," said Montague.

Montague highlighted the difficulty of the situation based on the fact that Jamaica has 145 illegally established ports of entry.

He also cited the United States' increased security on their southern border, which they share with Mexico, forcing many more illegal activities into the sea creating trans-shipment functions for Jamaica.

"Can you imagine what is coming in at these points, and can you imagine what is coming in along the coastline? You understand the magnitude of the problem, when the United States (strengthens) their border with Mexico. It, therefore, forces more illegal activities unto the sea. Therefore, Jamaica becomes a trans-shipment point."

He stressed the relevance of the MOU, connecting it to the fact that Jamaica is not a producer of firearms, but has the gun as the most featured murder weapon.

"In 81 per cent of crimes in Jamaica, the gun is featured. This signing (will) provide additional protection along the southern (border) and sections of the north-eastern coast.

The US's interest is stopping the flow of drugs into their country.

Our number-one interest is stopping the flow of guns into our country," he stated.

 

MOU details are as follows:

 

- MOU signed on December 15, 2016.

- Aimed at improving effectiveness of border-protection activities.

- Both will jointly establish and operate marine bases in Rocky Point, James Bond Beach, and Little Ochi in St Elizabeth.

- Bases will be used for joint contraband operations, rummaging vessels, intercepting suspicious vessels, goods or persons, coastal surveillance and intelligence gathering, supporting regulatory functions of GOJ agencies.

- JCF will lead all law enforcement operations.

- JCF will provide three marine craft, along with coxswain and crew, on a 24-hour basis at each of the bases.

- Customs shall develop a project plan detailing construction of marine bases.

- Customs is responsible for installing sewage disposal, water supply, electricity, and other utilities.

- Customs will provide two twin-cab motor vehicles.

- Customs will provide two 30-foot Boston whaler watercraft at Rocky Point and Little Ochi.