JFJ Representatives meet with New Commissioner of Police
Thursday, January 10, 2008 – Kingston, Jamaica – Representatives of Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) were pleased to meet yesterday with Commissioner of Police Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin to discuss issues the organization deem critical as Jamaica seeks to address the deplorable state of crime and violence that continues to plague the nation. Overall, JFJ was encouraged by the commissioner’s willingness to enter into dialogue and by his thoughtful response to their concerns and recommendations.
The meeting provided JFJ with an opportunity to discuss such issues as police abuse of citizen’s rights and the failure of Jamaican Constabulary Force (JCF) members to follow force orders or conform to Jamaican laws and the impunity with which they do so. The organization was also able to share information from a number of their reports and surveys that focus on issues of human rights in regards to policing and justice.
To reinforce the human tragedy that results from the currently dysfunctional operations of the JCF, JFJ representatives spoke about the unacceptable number of police killings that occurred in 2007 and highlighted three fatal police shooting incidents: Everton Dixon, Summerfa Dryden and father and son Winston Malcolm Sr. and Winston Malcolm Jr. These shootings, all considered to have occurred in controversial circumstances, not only leave family and friends mourning loved ones but also leave the entire nation wondering if the JCF can truly deliver the protection and service it is mandated to do.
The Commissioner indicated that he was aware that some JCF policies had not been strictly adhered to in the past and emphasized that he will be moving to ensure “misguided loyalty and extra-judicial actions,” which are so damaging to the force, will be swiftly and fairly dealt with. He also underscored his commitment to changing the “face and philosophy of policing” in Jamaica.
Responding to Commissioner Lewin’s stated intention to bring major changes to the JCF and the nation’s approach to fighting crime, JFJ representatives spoke of the inefficiencies embedded in the structure of the JCF and its oversight bodies, as well as the issue of civilian investigations. JFJ recommends a holistic approach to police reform that would simultaneously develop and implement an independent investigative authority; a restructured police service that is more service and problem solving orientated and proper structure for the accountability and oversight mechanisms of the police force.
Jamaicans for Justice was encouraged by Commissioner Lewin’s candour about the issues and his stated enthusiasm and dedication towards serving the Jamaican public and bringing meaningful reform to the police force. JFJ intends to hold him to his commitments.
For further information:
Dr. Carolyn Gomes – 755-4524-6/382-8583