National Security Policy gets the greenlight in Parliament

he National Security Policy for Jamaica was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, ushering in a new era of heightened national cooperation and strategic collaboration on national security.

The National Security Policy advances an ambitious vision for national security which requires joint coordinated action among Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) hand in hand with the citizens of Jamaica.

The Policy brings together the country’s major security goals, responsibilities and actions into one master strategy, and combines relevant instruments of power and influence related to national security, creating an integrated and comprehensive national security network. It also suggests roles and responsibilities for the public and private sectors as well as civil society in supporting national security.

In this era, according to the policy, “national security is everybody’s business”.

The Policy marks a new and dynamic approach to national security issues with clear areas of responsibility being shared by other MDAs and civil society. Jamaica’s policy names eight goals which if successfully achieved are expected to effectively address the country’s main security issues. They are:

1. To reduce violent crime and dismantle organized criminal networks
2. To strengthen the justice system and promote respect for the rule of law
3. To protect Jamaica from terrorism
4. To protect and control Jamaica’s territory
5. To strengthen the integrity of institutions of democratic government
6. To increase Jamaica’s contribution to regional and international security
7. To provide the environment for a stable economy and effective delivery of social services
8. To protect Jamaica’s natural resources and reduce the risk of disasters

The National Security Policy states that a bold process of transformation is required to achieve success in implementation. As such, the NSP aims to transform first attitudes, then relevant systems and procedures, and finally practices.

The Policy contains an Action Plan which outlines specific capabilities, objectives and actions required of MDAs and the time frame for delivery. The Policy further names five Special Security Initiatives as priority items for action in the short term. They are:

1. Strengthening the country’s intelligence system
2. Conducting strategic reviews of critical national security bodies and accelerating modernization efforts.
3. Establishing a national task force to strengthen the overall effectiveness of Jamaica’s justice system and to review and strengthen Jamaican laws and the lawmaking process
4. Enhancing programmes to promote community safety and security
5. Promoting a National Strategic Communication Programme to enhance public information and awareness, solidarity, engagement and support relating to the implementation of the NSP and promotion of national and human security.

Implementation of the NSP is the responsibility of the National Security Council which is chaired by the Prime Minister. The Council reports to Cabinet and the Cabinet in turn reports to Parliament for public accountability. A National Security Strategy Implementation Unit (NSSIU) has been established within the Office of the Cabinet to coordinate and drive the transformation process on behalf of the National Security Council and Cabinet.

The NSP does not replace existing initiatives against crime and violence. It is supportive of all other initiatives aimed at ensuring a safe and secure Jamaica.