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US Narcotics Control Report 2019 | US State Department concerned about corruption, lack of prosecution

Published:Monday | April 1, 2019 | 3:38 PM

The United States (US) Department of State has highlighted the struggle of combating drug trafficking in Jamaica because of what it says is entrenched corruption and poor prosecution of these cases.

In its latest International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, the department said that as a matter of policy, the Jamaican Government does not encourage or facilitate illegal activity associated with drug trafficking or the laundering of proceeds from illicit drug transactions.

The department said that in practice, however, corruption remains entrenched and widespread, and the judicial system has a poor record of prosecuting corruption cases against law enforcement and government officials.

"The last time a member of parliament or similarly high-ranking official was tried or convicted on corruption charges was in 1990 when a former minister of labour was convicted for diverting money from a farm-worker programme for personal gain," the report stated.

"Corruption at Jamaica's airports and seaports allegedly facilitates the movement of drug shipments across borders, and organised crime leaders have historically had ties to government officials, creating a permissive environment for drug trafficking," the report added.

The department, however, highlighted Jamaica's efforts to tackle the problem.

"In October 2018, the Jamaican Government passed a bill to make MOCA (the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency), which investigates organised crime and official corruption, fully independent of the police. MOCA was previously a task force within the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force); the new legislation makes it a free-standing entity with its own dedicated resources, potentially increasing its freedom to investigate corruption cases throughout the Government," said the document.

jerome.reynolds@gleanerjm.com.

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