The American Government has increased its funding of programmes designed to help Jamaica and other countries in the Caribbean tackle a number of problems linked to crime and violence, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Caribbean Affairs and Haiti Barbara Feinstein told journalists on Tuesday.
According to Feinstein, the funds being allocated through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs total US$3.5 million for Jamaica specifically, and US$10 million for programmes in the wider Caribbean.
“We understand that crime and violence reduction is an enormous priority for the Government of Jamaica. It is also an enormous priority for the United States,” she said, adding that the increased assistance was communicated during a strategic dialogue between the Jamaican Government and a US delegation led by Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland on Tuesday.
“We were pleased to announce at the strategic dialogue, a doubling of our systems budget under [the] International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau for Jamaica and that’s everything related to combating gang violence, to helping in terms of improved case management for the judicial system, to the interdiction of guns, addressing issues related to narcotics,” she added.
Feinstein also noted that she met with members of civil society groups to get an understanding of their perspectives on crime and violence in the country and how the problem can be tackled from a holistic perspective.
“The law enforcement portion is critical, but it is also important to consider the broader ecosystem in terms of at-risk youth and what opportunities can be brought for at-risk youth,” she said.
“In that sense, USAID also discussed a programme it has… with the Ministry of National Security to provide opportunities for at-risk youth to look at family-based counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy — all these interventions that we know work — to try to drive down crime and violence,” she said.
Feinstein also said Nuland made a commitment to the Government to engage in broader cooperation to ensure consistency of all programmes.