AMENDED PRESS RELEASE
JFJ Questions the Wisdom of the Appointment of Major General Stewart Saunders
Thursday, June 20, 2013, Kingston, Jamaica – Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is very concerned about the appointment of Retired Chief of Defence Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Major General Stewart Saunders as Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security. We question the wisdom of the Major General’s appointment at this time.
It was under Major General Saunders’ leadership of the JDF that the 2010 Tivoli/West Kingston incursion, conducted by the JDF and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) occurred during which:
– over 76 people were killed;
– subsequent reports of missing persons arose;
– myriad persons were injured;
– hundreds of people were detained under questionable circumstances, treated questionably and made to stay in questionable conditions;
– property was lost and damaged; and
– Keith Clarke was killed, among other issues.
JFJ questions the appropriateness of the appointment of Major General Saunders to the sensitive and important post of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security at the same time that a Commission of Enquiry will be looking at, among other things, the issue of his leadership of the Tivoli operations, and also seeking to assign responsibility for alleged breaches of rights that occurred.
JFJ is also concerned as to what effect the appointment of Major General Saunders prior to the start of the enquiry will have on the appearance of impartiality of the Commission of Enquiry given the potential influence of the Ministry of National Security over the release of information to the Commission and the appearance and testimony of witnesses.
The United Nations Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions requires that:
“Those potentially implicated in extra-legal, arbitrary or summary executions shall be removed from any position of control or power, whether direct or indirect over complainants, witnesses and their families, as well as over those conducting investigations.
Major General Saunders’ appointment appears to be in breach of that principle.