Drugs and violence in the Caribbean

This week, the event ‘Drugs and Violence in the Caribbean’ will comprise of two lectures. 

The Pacification of Violent Territorial Organized Crime: Legitimacy Dilemmas of a Weak State
Anthony Harriott, Institute of Criminal Justice and Security, University of the West Indies
Formal state policing in Jamaica suffers from large institutional legitimacy deficits. There is a crime control performance deficit and, a justice-in-policing deficit. By objective measures, its crime control performance has been poor. Jamaica has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. It also has one of the lowest homicide arrest and conviction rates. The performance of the police is also perceived by the population to be poor. Even more problematic is its record of fairness, respect for due process and for the rights of citizens including their right to life (justice in policing). On the afternoon of May 24, 2010, 69 citizens were killed during an internal security operation in the small inner-city neighbourhood of Tivoli Gardens. In this presentation, this operation is analysed as an instance that compressed and revealed the use-of-violence-dilemmas of policing the urban marginalized poor by a weak Jamaican state. These legitimacy dilemmas are identified and the methods that are used by the police and state to manage them are highlighted and explained.

Ganja as a Development Challenge
Axel Klein, Global Drug Observatory, University of Swansea, Wales, UK
In the Caribbean, drugs were identified early on as a tool for population control, the continued anxiety of ex slave colonies. In the interlude between the wars on communism and terror drugs emerged as a primary concern of security sector which established a heavy presence in Latin America and Caribbean. As a policy issue, drug control was interwoven with a range of social conflicts along lines of class, race and gender, and contributed to society/policetnesions, rising prison populations and corruption. As Jamaica is easing its policy with the decriminalisation of consumption and legislation for the production and use of medical cannabis a new chapter opens. Other Caribbean countries are watching, as are likeminded states. Issues arising over the shifting policy paradigm include the relationship of Jamaican ganja farmers vis-à-vis organised crime groups that for long were involved in the trade, but also the international pharmaceutical companies that are establishing themselves. For the largest donor, the European Commission, new challenges arise over how to respond to this development. Should ganja be recognised as a development opportunity for poverty eradication, therapeutic value, and good governance. Or will it simply be ignored.

Anthony Harriott is a Professor of Political Sociology and Director of the Institute of Criminal Justice and Security at the University of the West Indies. He is the author/ co-author of several books, articles and technical reports – primarily on the issues of violence, organised crime and policing in Caribbean societies.

Axel Klein is professor at the University of Swansea. He is the Team Leader and expert for the European Commission funded Cocaine Route Programme. He has published several books on drugs issues related to policy environment, the tensions between cultural phenomenon and international prohibitions, and the development dimension. 

Discussant: Prof. Dr. Kees Koonings, Professor of Brazilian Studies at the University of Amsterdam

Venue: CEDLA
Entrance: Free 



CEDLA, Centrum voor Studie en Documentatie van Latijns-Amerika

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