Update to Response to Information Request JAM17595.E of 20 June 1994, on recent Posses activity in North America and Jamaica and on the Jamaican government's response to these activities [JAM17768.E]

The following information was provided by a journalist with The Daily Gleaner in Kingston, Jamaica (21 June 1994). The term "Posses" was first used by American and British writers to "sensationalize what are basically drug-related gangs and their activities in Jamaica." The Posses became involved in party politics by supporting particular political parties or candidates in the 1970s. However, they have shifted their focus from politics to criminal activities in the inner cities of Jamaica, where they have concentrated on the drug trade and related activities. Some foreign reporters have tried to link the Jamaican Posses to drug-related and other criminal activities in North America, but the source was uncertain about such links. He stated that the Jamaican gangs are Jamaican-based and they are not capable of managing crime networks around North America.

The source stated that the Jamaican government does not appear to be in control of the situation. The government has responded with increased use of police, but the police are not adequately equipped to fight crime in the country. In short, the government has been "paying lip service" to the problem of crime prevention in Jamaica. While the government makes regular announcements on its plans or intentions to combat crime, its actions stop at these public announcements. The crime rate related to gang activity in Jamaica has not receded, an indication that the government's response to these activities is ineffective. For instance, the number of people murdered in drug and gang-related activities in Jamaica is expected to reach 700 this year, an increase from last year's figure of slightly more than 600.

The failure of government initiatives to fight crime can be attributed to poverty. The cost of basic necessities in Jamaica is constantly on the rise, and people are unable to make ends meet with their meagre incomes. This situation makes crime more attractive. The source stated that he was not in any way trying to justify crime.

Nonetheless, he believed that unless the government begins to seriously tackle the economic problems of Jamaica, it will continue to fight the consequences rather than the root causes of crime in the country. The government's resort to regular announcements of crime-fighting plans is an attempt to reassure a public, which is already cynical about the government's ability to fight crime. The Jamaican public is aware that the government has been losing the battle against crime in the streets of its slums. The DIRB is unable to corroborate this information at the present time.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Journalist with The Daily Gleaner, Kingston. 21 June 1994. Telephone interview.