BBC Caribbean
March 20, 2004

US embargo on arms to Jamaica

Jamaica has confirmed that the United States has suspended the shipment of arms to private and commercial entities in the country.

The Ministry of National Security says the decision is not linked to the Prime Minister PJ Patterson's embrace of former Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide.

The development follows claims this week that an arms embargo was issued against Jamaica in retaliation for the country's decision to host Jean Bertrand Aristide.

The Ministry of National Security said it received a letter from the US State Department which it says outlines the reasons why the US suspended the issue of import licenses to arms dealers in Jamaica which in effect has temporarily stopped the legal movement of arms from the US to Jamaica.

Donovan Nelson from the Ministry of National Security said based on the document, the suspension of the import licenses is the result of a review which is being done by the US authorities in order to control the flow of guns into Jamaica and the rest of the region.

"The suspension does not apply to the Jamaican government's military and law enforcement contracts for firearms and ammunition," said Nelson.

On Wednesday, National Security Minister Dr Peter Phillips pledged to find out whether the rumours were true that the US had stopped the shipment of arms to Jamaica because of disagreements over the handling of the Haitian situation.

At that time, the minister said he was aware of plans by the US government to conduct a review on the policy governing the movement of arms to the region