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Organized Violence and Crime Becoming Serious Threats to the State  

Organized Violence and Crime Becoming Serious Threats to the State  

“We have to change the legislation to create this understanding that gangs, violence and crime are a threat to the existence of the Jamaican State.”


– Prime Minister Holness


Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the twin issues of organized violence and crime are threats to the very existence of the Jamaican State.

Prime Minister Holness is also stressing the need for greater understanding, a recalibration of perspectives and collaboration to effectively combat the multifaceted challenges faced by the nation.

Speaking last week at the Annual Security Council Seminar, Prime Minister Holness highlighted that the problems faced by Jamaica are not unique to the nation and have transcended borders, even impacting countries traditionally considered crime-free.

Explaining the complexity of the issue in modern algorithmic terms, the Prime Minister said: “The algorithm’s terminology is saying that the present problems we have are as a result of the structure of society, economy, and politics. It is the things that we do that create the problem. We have to study it so that we can figure out what we need to do differently in order to create a new algorithm of peace, productivity, and prosperity.”

In that regard, the Prime Minister noted: “It falls on the government to fully comprehend the algorithm. And in so doing, we develop strategies that will come out of the collaboration that will take place [in this seminar], and then we have the incredible task of communicating the strategies to the public to engage the public.”

At the same time, Prime Minister Holness stressed the necessity of collaboration, bringing together not only security experts but also a diverse set of personnel, thinking, and policy experts to comprehensively understand and address the root causes of organized violence.

Reflecting on the regional context, the Prime Minister highlighted the paradox of a region celebrated for its cultural diversity and natural beauty but plagued by escalating crime and violence. Citing data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Prime Minister Holness stated that Latin America and the Caribbean face a higher risk of criminal violence per capita compared to any other region globally.

Acknowledging progress made in Jamaica, Prime Minister Holness stated: “In 2023, Jamaica saw a reduction in all major crimes, with murders down by 7.8%, shootings down approximately 6%, and rape, robbery, and break-ins down between 12 and 17%. In fact, in 2023, Jamaica recorded its lowest level of crime in more than 22 years.”

In the meantime, Prime Minister Holness underscored the organized nature of crime in Jamaica, describing it as a form of “criminal terrorism.” He highlighted the challenges faced in balancing immediate citizen demands for safety with the need to preserve Jamaica’s reputation as a free and democratic society.

To confront the long-standing issue, Prime Minister Holness emphasized the need to strengthen Jamaica’s security architecture.

“We have to bring our security architecture up to the level where it is greater than the threat.” The Prime Minister said there must be a shift in perspectives, recognizing that gangs, violence, and crime pose a threat not just at the street level but to the existence of the Jamaican State.

The Prime Minister also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to tackling the issue head-on, adjusting legislation, policies, and resource allocation to address the root causes of crime and violence.

He emphasized the imperative to view the problem through a national security prism, understanding that the coordinated and organized nature of the threat extends beyond a citizen-to-citizen challenge, constituting a direct threat to the State.

Prime Minister Holness urged all stakeholders to join forces in the collective effort to create a new algorithm of peace, productivity, and prosperity, ensuring the safety and security of the Jamaican people.