Delays in Investigation a Problem for JFJ
Friday, August 27, 2010, Kingston, Jamaica – Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is deeply perturbed by the delay in concluding the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Keith Clarke. Mr. Clarke was killed three months ago on May 26, 2010 by members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) in an operation that raised serious questions which need answers. Since then, evidence that will bring truth, transparency and closure to the investigation has still not been made available to the investigating officers. In particular JFJ is concerned about the failure of investigators to recover all spent shells at the scene, and to get the full cooperation of the Military with all aspects of the investigation. The delays may have compromised the integrity of the investigation.
Investigations surrounding military operations have too often had a history of delays, lack of transparency and the invocation of public interest immunity. However, where a citizen is deprived of his right to life by members of its security forces, the State has an obligation to investigate the death thoroughly and transparently regardless of which arm of the force is involved. Thoroughness and transparency is in the public’s interest. We call on Terrence Williams, the newly appointed Commissioner of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) who has been charged with the investigation of incidents involving members of the security forces, to take charge of the probe and use his powers to ensure that the investigation is efficiently and effectively brought to a conclusion.
We are also deeply distressed that the Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI) continues to report prolonged delays in the conclusion of forensic and ballistic tests. JFJ has documented many instances where investigations have stalled due in part to reported prolonged delays in ballistic testing. JFJ reiterates the need for comprehensive reform of the ballistic and other auxiliary departments and calls for their independence from the police and added oversight by INDECOM.
JFJ is mindful that lengthy delays have not just been inimical to investigations but also to the justice system as a whole. To this end we point to the fact that in some cases there are still lengthy delays in getting rulings from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Investigations prolonged can be compromised. Long delays in getting rulings and having cases heard in court provide opportunities for problems. Justice delayed is justice denied. All arms of the justice system must work with more thoroughness and alacrity to ensure that the prevailing pattern of impunity for agents of the State in the killing of Jamaican citizens is reversed by: diligent, timely investigations; timely rulings from the office of the DPP; and timely, transparent and fair court proceedings. This is vital to ensure the restoration of the trust of the citizens in the formal system of justice.