Sunday, August 13, 2017
ATROCIOUS JCF ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW REPORT MUST BE WITHDRAWN
The just released Report of the Administrative Review Committee of the Jamaica Constabulary Force is deeply concerning to Jamaicans For Justice and to the other groups and individuals listed below who endorse this statement. The JCF was responding to the recommendation of the Western Kingston Commission of Enquiry that was put to both arms of the security forces. It was for the self-assessment that any self-respecting body would want to carry out in light of damning but “credible evidence” of grave misconduct by some of its members, both rank and file and senior, which had prompted the Commission’s severe rebukes.
Two kinds of misconduct drew the particular attention of the Commission. One was the extra-judicial killing of 15 to 20 listed civilians by police and soldiers immediately after the Jamaica Defence Force had taken control of designated areas in Tivoli Gardens. The other major misconduct was the egregious failure of five senior police officers to fulfil their responsibility to record the location of victims’ bodies and to preserve those death scenes.
Instead of acknowledging misconduct, the Review Committee headed by ACP Wray Palmer has produced complete exoneration. It simply ignores or denies elementary contradictory evidence collected and sifted painstakingly over 19 months. This sends a message about senior members of the JCF and about JCF policing that is very disturbing. Not only JFJ and the public but also, we are confident, the many excellent police in the Force are bound to note what it says about police conduct in the Zones of Special Operation shortly to be implemented.
However, there are two positives that JFJ sees possibly emerging from this pathetic product of the JCF’s Review Committee. One positive is the compelling need for a clearing out of a substantial part of the senior level of the Force. This is as clear as it never has been in the past. Who can deny it? The other positive is the equally clear obligation on Parliament to formally discuss and publicly accept the Commission’s recommendations. Had it already done so, this JCF Review Committee could never have come out with a clearing of its members.
Parliament has an obligation to put in place a structure for following up on reports from bodies established by Parliament itself (though Parliament didn’t establish the Commission of Enquiry) and other important reports tabled before it. It is shameful that 14 months after the Commission’s Report was tabled in the House, a Commission that has cost Jamaica hundreds of millions of dollars, its very serious recommendations have not been subjected to substantial debate/discussion in Parliament.
For example, the apology to the people of Tivoli Gardens and West Kingston that it recommended and that Minister Chuck and the Prime Minister promised to make, for the profound trauma experienced in May 2020, is still not made. An apology should not wait on the PM’s timetable or for an announcement about financial compensation. An apology is a ‘compensation’ of a higher kind. It is owed to the people. It is seven years overdue.
Jamaicans For Justice and the groups and individuals listed below support the call made by the Public Defender for the immediate withdrawal of the report of the JCF’s Administrative Review Committee. The seriousness of this matter is reflected in the Commission declaration at the end of its Report (15.30): “The most significant and worrying feature of our Enquiry was the fact that the JCF did not acknowledge responsibility for any civilian deaths whatsoever… The time has surely come to usher in a radical new culture in the operations of the security forces, a culture that provides a greater transparency and accountability.”
This release has been endorsed by the following signatories:
- Jeanette Calder
- Joan Joy Cummings
- Carolyn Gomes
- Diana McCaulay
- Carol Narcisse
- Hilary Nicholson