New JCF Force Orders: Commendable But Inadequate

Tuesday, October 13, 2014, Kingston, Jamaica – On October 4, Police Commissioner Carl Williams promulgated Force Orders that, if implemented, would significantly improve the internal accountability of Police Officers in relation to shootings.

The steps prescribed by the Commissioner deal with many problematic areas noted over the years and include measures which Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) supports and has previously recommended.

JFJ have been concerned with the fact that police officers who are involved in fatal shootings have been allowed to resume front line operational duties before a proper investigation has been held, without the input of INDECOM regarding the status of their investigations or before being cleared by the court.  In one startling case, the family of a deceased Jamaican was informed that the police officer who fired the fatal shots that killed their relative was still being investigated in relation to three other fatal shootings. It must be noted that all three investigations were incomplete up to the time that this officer was allowed to participate in the operation that led to the death of a citizen.

While these measures are a positive step in the right direction, our legislators cannot escape their duty to impose, through legislation, administrative standards and regulations relating to police accountability that must be enshrined in law. We reiterate that the Jamaican government must take legislative measures to provide legal recourse for civilians for breaches of the Force Orders. The need for these Force Orders is only one small sign of a greater need for more robust oversight of the police force.

JFJ also calls on Commissioner Williams to adopt the practice of publishing the full Force Orders, as the excerpts do not provide the public with complete information regarding the standards to which members of the JCF are to be held.

Jamaicans for Justice looks forward to seeing these directives fully implemented. We congratulate Commissioner Dr Williams on his initiative in this regard.

About Rodje Malcolm
Rodje Malcolm manages advocacy at JFJ. He works primarily on international human rights mechanisms and the rights of children.