JFJ Press Release: JFJ Urges Gov’t to Consult with Civil Society on Terms of Reference for Commission of Enquiry

JFJ Urges Gov’t to Consult with Civil Society on Terms of Reference for Commission of Enquiry

Friday, May 17, 2013, Kingston, Jamaica – Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) welcomes the decision by the Government of Jamaica to proceed with a Commission of Enquiry in keeping with the recommendations made in the Public Defender’s Report on the 2010 Tivoli Incursion. JFJ feels that in order to undertake a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incursion, guidelines for an effective inquiry need to be drafted and civil society consulted.

JFJ proposes that the terms of reference of the Commission of Enquiry must include getting to the truth of:

  1. The circumstances leading to the State of Emergency in Kingston and St. Andrew, particularly Tivoli Gardens on May 23, 2010.
  2. The situation which led to the members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) being deployed into Tivoli Gardens and St. Andrew in search of Christopher “Dudus” Coke on May 24, 2010.
  3. The planning, conduct and oversight of the operations of the security forces
  4. Whether the use of weapons and use of force before, during and after the operation were appropriate and proportional to the situation.
  5. The roles played by the heads of the JDF and JCF as well as the Ministers of National Security and Defence/Prime Minister.
  6. The circumstances surrounding the deaths of those who were killed during the incursion and incidents related to it.
  7. The circumstances under which persons were detained by members of the security forces, the treatment of the detainees, the conditions in which they were kept and the mechanisms for monitoring these detentions.
  8. The loss of and damage to property as a result of the incursion.
  9. The issue of adequate compensation for loss of life and injury to persons as well as loss of and damage to property.
  10. Assistance of the US in terms of the nature of any requests, any assistance provided and involvement of any American personnel.
  11. The circumstances which led to the operation at the house of Keith Clarke and the conditions under which he was killed.
  12. The operation involving the tracking and eventual capture of Christopher Coke including the circumstances which led to his escape in the interim.
  13. Reports of missing persons
  14. Whether having regard to the evidence the Commission may conclude that the security forces engaged in unlawful acts, including but not limited to, murder, rape, destruction of property, assault. 

JFJ believes that consulting with civil society on the terms of the reference as well as the commissioners who will preside over the inquiry is integral to good governance. We remind Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller that she too had perceived the issue of consultation to be of utmost importance when she wrote in a 2010 open letter to then Prime Minister Bruce Golding:

“Even in the absence of such a scenario, the weightiness of the history-making issues that are to be inquired into, the widespread calls for the establishment of an independent commission and the far-reaching interest that has been displayed by so many sectors of the society must certainly have impelled a prime minister who is wedded to the cause of inclusiveness and transparency to conduct a consultation exercise beyond the ordinary.”

We also urge the prime minister to ensure that the commissioners are equipped with adequate resources, powers and authority to carry out an effective and thorough investigation that will uncover the truth of all the circumstances surrounding the 2010 Tivoli/West Kingston operations, provide some accountability for the deaths, injuries, detention and damages that it caused and restore confidence in the rule of law to the minds of the Jamaican people.  JFJ reiterates that it is the right of the Jamaican people to be involved in the inquiry and for the living victims and families of the people who died to be present as they seek to get justice for what happened.