Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
National Security Minister Senator Dwight Nelson yesterday shot down allegations in the
2010 International Narcotics Control Report
issued by the United States that Jamaica had been less than cooperative in the fight against organised crime.
This is in keeping with Prime Minister Bruce Golding's statement at Tuesday's sitting of the House of Representatives that Nelson would yesterday provide the nation with a fulsome response to the claims contained in the report.
"The statements in that report do not accurately represent the efforts being made by the security forces and the Jamaican authorities in the fight against international drug trafficking and organised crime," declared Nelson.
But the minister steered clear of ascribing a motive for the alleged inaccuracies in the high-profile report.
There are, however, concerns in the public domain that relations between Jamaica and the US have been deteriorating with each passing day due to the refusal of the former to hand over Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke to the US.
Nelson contended that data supplied in the US-originated report deviated from authentic information out of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Police Statistics Division and the national security ministry.
He argued that the US was wrong about the number of arrests made for drug-related crimes last year.
He told the Upper House that as at December of last year, 8,465 arrests had been made, in stark contrast to the 6,346 quoted in the report.
Nelson said ganja seizure fell by 37 per cent from 35,539.16kg in 2008 to 22,292.09kg last year.
"This may be attributed to success in previous years at combating production," the minister told the Senate.
Reacting to the allegations in the report that there was not enough being done to clog up Jamaica's border, Nelson said a security committee to periodically review and discuss national security concerns, particularly at the ports of entry, was being established.
The minister reeled off a list of international treaties relating to illegal and psychotropic drugs, as well as legislation locally, to hit the drug trade hard.
In an apparent bid to demonstrate that Jamaica remained committed to the effort and enjoyed a healthy relationship with the US, Nelson cited financial assistance granted by the United States and other partners to break the back of the lucrative trade.
He also listed the efforts by the Government in its fight against corruption.
Comprehensive policy coming
Nelson spoke of the establishment of an evidence-based comprehensive policy agenda to respond to the crime challenges.
He told the Senate that the Independent Commission of Investigation Bill was well on its way to becoming law.
In response to claims by the US that the Government had failed to enact five anti-crime bills, Nelson said their passage had been stalled by the uncooperative approach of the parliamentary opposition.
This precipitated an exchange between Opposition Spokesman on Justice A.J. Nicholson and Nelson.
Nicholson challenged Nelson to state that the blame for the failure of the bills to be passed should lay squarely at the feet of the Opposition.
Nelson said the Opposition had reneged on an agreement reached during the Vale Royal talks after other parties raised objections in the public domain.
But Nicholson contended that only two of the bills required opposition support, hence the failure of the Government to get the bills through Parliament could have been of its own doing.
He said the opposition had raised objections to one of the bills relating to the detention of suspects in light of the fact that it would clash with the proposed Charter of Rights Act.