JFJ Press Release: JFJ Encouraged by Minister’s Actions to Address Police Killings

JFJ Encouraged by Minister’s Actions to Address Police Killings

Thursday, March 29, 2012, Kingston, Jamaica – Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is encouraged by the stance taken by the Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting, to address the recent spate and long history of police killings in Jamaica. At yesterday’s sitting of the House of Representatives, the Minister indicated that the Government “will be holding the Commissioner of Police, and the High Command, accountable for a reduction in the level of Police fatal shootings” and set out a number of actions to be taken in that regard.

The Minister acknowledged that the number of persons killed by the police is much too high, and spoke of “a culture within the force, which is independent of the official policy, which tends to accept excessive use of force”. He spoke of the need for the operations of the Police Force to take into consideration the safety of bystanders and suspects, as well as the safety of police officers. In his statement he affirmed that in order for the police “to retain the confidence of the society that they police…they must be ready to account for their actions to society’ and that “Every use of lethal force has to be investigated, explained and justified.”

We consider it unprecedented that the protest held earlier in the day was commended as a part of the democratic process. The Minister met with a small delegation of the protesters who had been demonstrating outside of the offices of the Ministry of National Security and spoke frankly in the meeting of the need for change.

The demonstration was intended to call for improving policing in Jamaica, emphasise the citizens’ demand for action to ensure adherence to the existing JCF Use of Force policy even as reviews were underway, and effect speedy public explanation based on investigations into circumstances surrounding recent killings.

JFJ commends the Minister for his statements and his apparent willingness to speak out on the issue of excessive use of force by the police. We believe that the actions proposed are steps in the right direction and hope that they will be implemented swiftly and effectively for the benefit of police officers and civilians alike.

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