Justice Demands Action: JFJ Responds to the Tabling West Kingston Commission of Enquiry Report

ACTION is the only response that honours the dignity of victims and secures justice for those still harmed by state violence across Jamaica.

Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) welcomes the tabling of the report of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry in parliament, and unreservedly affirms the value of the Commission’s process to securing justice for those affected. The Commission’s report detailed some of the greatest assaults on human rights in Jamaica’s modern history. They remind us of the deadly cost of a culture of impunity – one paid by the over 70 Jamaicans killed during the joint police-military operation in 2010.

Source: RJR News Online

The Commission’s report is not the end of the process — it is the beginning of another stage. Now, the government must commit to a serious program of reform that recognizes, interrupts, and prevents human rights violations by the security forces and strengthens state organs capable of providing effective remedies. ACTION is the only response that honours the dignity of victims and secures justice for those still harmed by state violence across Jamaica. We call on the government to respond officially to the report’s findings and expeditiously implement its recommendations.

In 900 pages, the Commission made numerous findings, most of which the country is still reviewing. We welcome the commitments to assign the report to a sub-committee of Cabinet and place it before a committee of Parliament.[1] These steps would recognize the need for its consideration by the highest authorities. However, they must not be used to delay or conceal the government’s response to the findings – especially those concerning compensation and police reform – which the public has a right to. In this vein, we acknowledge some key findings that require timely action.

  • The Commission recommended that the government apologize to and compensate residents for the “excesses of the security forces during the operation,” affirming Jamaica’s binding human rights obligations locally and internationally.[2]
  • The Commission endorsed continued criminal investigations into the killings of residents whom “all the evidence adduced strongly suggests…were unlawfully killed by unidentified police officers,” placing a burden on the government to ensure that the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is sufficiently equipped to conduct impartial investigations, free from obstacles and frustrations.[3]
  • The Commission also called for reforms of the security forces that would improve their use of force, arms management, and civilian oversight — longstanding issues raised repeatedly by civil society.[4]

Starting the process on these priority recommendations does not require lengthy deliberations – it only requires political will. On matters of such importance, further delay is not an option.

Source: Jamaica Gleaner

Monitoring the Commission Process

JFJ in partnership with Amnesty International has been monitoring the Commission’s process against established international human rights standards for national enquiries to improve local practices for future Commissions. Our monitoring project included assessing the Commission against twenty evaluation criteria. JFJ is presently reviewing the full report, and will issue its findings on the Commission’s procedure along with recommendations for future Commissions shortly. We look forward to partnering with stakeholders to strengthen the Commission process.

 


 

[1] Statement of the Hon. Delroy Chuck to House of Representatives. June 15, 2016 and Ministry Paper 57/2016

[2] Report of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry. p. 478-479

[3] Report of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry. p. 217 and generally chapter 9

[4] Report of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry. p. 481-488