Jamaica’s location a double-edged sword, says Chang

Security Minister Dr Horace Chang is bemoaning that Jamaica’s strategic position in the Caribbean is a double-edged sword, providing opportunities for economic prosperity on one hand but also proving to be a stomping ground for organised criminals.

“We are strategically located in the Caribbean, so today we are working on developing a policy — with support of the Opposition — of growing the economy and making ourselves not only the premier tourist destination, but the premier logistics centre, which can bring significant wealth, restore much of the dynamism of the Corporate Area, and lay the foundation for a really dynamic economy. But that same strategic position makes it very easy for major criminal organisations to operate out of Jamaica,” Dr Chang rued.

“We are a small country but we face many challenges. The very things that give us an opportunity to become the greatest little country in the world are the same things that allow crime to thrive,” he continued.

Addressing the annual general meeting of the Police Officers’ Association (POA) at Iberostar Rose Hall Suites Hotel in St James last Friday, Dr Chang argued that, in carrying out their nefarious activities, these well-funded, organised criminals “have no restrictions”.

“They have no INDECOM (Independent Commission of Investigations) or Charter of Rights to respond to, all of which we have to pay attention to. They just move. They have enormous resources and the will to really disrupt and undermine our social institutions and retard the country’s development — that’s the team you have to respond to,” the security minister said.

INDECOM is mandated to undertake investigations concerning actions by members of the security forces and other agents of the State that result in death or injury to individuals, or the abuse of the rights of people, and connected matters.

Dr Chang said that the on-the-job experience gained by senior police officers over the years will now be heavily relied on to deal with the threat posed by these organised criminals.

“And while we can take policy decisions through laws and seek to invest in them, much of what is required to deal with it will come from the lessons that men and women, like yourselves, have learnt… Because you deal with crime every day; you are on the front line,” the security minister said.

The conference was held under the theme: “Empowerment through Leadership”.