JFJ Press Release: JFJ Calls for an End to Police Excesses & Pattern of Impunity in Observance of International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations

JFJ Calls for an End to Police Excesses & Pattern of Impunity in Observance of International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations

Yesterday, Sunday, March 24, was the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations. In recognition of this day, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) calls on the Jamaican government to address the systematic human rights violations inflicted on the Jamaican citizenry by members of the security forces over the years and put an end to the pattern of impunity for these breaches. Since 1999, the police have killed over 2500 citizens – many in disputed and unjustifiable circumstances – with less than ten police officers having been criminally convicted of murder.

In many of these deaths, there have not been thorough, independent investigations. In many of these deaths, neither the family nor the society has been provided with the truth surrounding the death. Many of these cases are languishing at some point in the formal justice system – in the office of the DPP, in the Coroner’s Court, in the RM court or the Supreme/Circuit courts. Many of these cases have seen no progress in years. Some of these cases have been completed in a manner that does not meet with the necessary standards for the establishing of the truth or the attainment of justice.

One of the cases which cries out for truth and justice is that of the more than 73 people killed nearly three years ago in the military and police operations in Tivoli Gardens. The Jamaican government has not lived up to its domestic and international obligations to provide families and the country with the truth surrounding the circumstances which led to the deaths of these people. Neither has it provided justice in any form.

In March of last year, 21 people were killed by the police in a 6 day period, including 10 people in a 24-hour period between March 1 and 2. Among those killed were:

–          Nikita Cameron, a 13 year old girl from DenhamTown, killed March 12;

–          Diane Gordon, a 45 year old woman from Cassava Piece who was shot at her gate on March 16;

–          Vanessa Kirkland, a 16 year old girl travelling in a motor car on March 20.

So far this year 71 persons have been killed by the police many in very questionable circumstances.  Many hundreds more families await truth and justice.

March 24 was proclaimed International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations on December 21, 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly in order to, among other things:

  • Honour the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and justice.

JFJ calls on the Jamaican government to:

–          Set up a Commission of Enquiry into the May 2010 Military and Police operations and the resulting deaths

–          Provide the public with updates into the investigation of the deaths of Nikita Cameron, Diane Gordon and Vanessa Kirkland and the hundreds of other cases now languishing in the system.

–          Put a stop to police abuse and impunity!

“The rights to truth and justice are central to ending impunity for gross violations of human rights. […] In all instances, honouring this right puts others on notice that violations cannot stay hidden for long.”

–          UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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