Right Steps & Poui Trees


13 Comments

Focusing on a Lizard…Again: Weekly Photo Challenge – Focus

“This week, share a photo that represents focus to you. Are you a stickler for getting in close to your subjects and capturing every detail, or do you prefer a more ethereal look that illustrates the sensations of the moment? Or both?”

I had left the cup out overnight. In it was a little leftover ginger tea sweetened with honey. In the morning, something else was in the cup…a little lizard.P1150733

Having climbed in, it couldn’t get out again.P1150719

I like the way in which the tea and the glass and the lizard’s translucent skin affect the focus…P1150783

PS I’m adding this a few days after publishing my blog post to assure readers that the little was fine after its ordeal. Right after taking my photos, I rested the cup on its side on a window sill and the lizard crawled out and ran away.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Focus

 


5 Comments

Thank You, Blood Donors! #GiveBlood #GiveNow #GiveOften #WBDD2017

More than thirty years ago, as a newborn, my son had a medical challenge that meant he needed a complete blood transfusion. Many family members and friends gave blood on his behalf, but none of them had his blood type, which is not a common type in Jamaica. There were no units of that blood type in the blood bank system at the time, which was obviously very frightening for us.Blood types in Jamaica However, the staff at the blood collection centre at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) knew of a blood donor with that blood type on campus. They contacted her and asked if she would be willing to make a donation and she was. My son had his blood transfusion, which gave his tiny body a better chance of overcoming the challenges he faced. And all these years later, he is a healthy, grown man, making his contribution to society!

Over the years, I have thought with gratitude of that blood donor who willingly answered the call she got, and in doing so gave an invaluable gift to my son, me and my family. My son has become a blood donor himself and a few times we have actually gone together to the collection centre at UHWI to make blood donations. It’s a way of passing the gift along.

So today on World Blood Donor Day 2017, I’d like to celebrate all those who give blood, and to support the campaign message to #GiveBlood, #GiveNow, #GiveOftenWorld Blood Donor Day 14-6-17And if you aren’t able to donate blood yourself, share the message and encourage others to donate!

Check out the National Blood Transfusion Service website to get more information about giving blood in Jamaica.Blood collection centresHave a look at the PAHO/WHO web page to find more information about blood donation in the region.blood donation in Americas 2017And in ending, I want to congratulate my youngest brother, David, who is a long-term, repeat blood donor.  He has given blood more frequently than anyone else I know personally and his commitment is very inspiring!World blood donor day 2017.PNG

 


Leave a comment

Making Haste: Joint Select Committee & Special Zones of Operations Act

This afternoon (June 13, 2017), the Joint Select Committee of Parliament considering The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, 2017 had its first sitting. It was a short, preliminary meeting primarily intended to set out how the Committee will proceed.

Delroy Chuck 2Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck is chairing the Committee and reminded that the Bill had been tabled in the House by Prime Minister Holness during his Budget Debate presentation on March 21, 2017. He noted that this Bill is one of the measures intended to deal with the high level of violent crime in the country and made reference to the quadruple murder that had taken place in the parish of Hanover this morning. He indicated that the Prime Minister had asked that the Committee complete its deliberations by the end of June. This means that the Committee has about two weeks in which to conduct its process and report back to Parliament; by the first week in July, at the latest, Minister Chuck said.

The Committee has asked that advertisements be placed in the media this week, inviting individuals and organizations to make written submissions on the Bill to Parliament, with a possible deadline for submission by next week Tuesday.  They will also write to a number of specific organizations inviting them to make submissions; among those mentioned were the Jamaica Bar Association, the Advocates Association, the Public Defender, Jamaicans for Justice, the Norman Manley Law School and the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology. Individuals and organizations which make written submissions may be asked to make presentations in the Chamber, which will need to take place next week or the week after that.

Dates for three meetings of the Committee were set today, though these may change, as sometimes happens:

  • Wednesday, June 21 – 9 a.m.
  • Tuesday, June 27 – 10 a.m.
  • Wednesday, June 28 – 2 p.m.

It is hoped that all contributions can be concluded by the end of these three meetings, after which the Committee will do a clause-by-clause review of the Bill before finalising their report to Parliament.

Minster Chuck said that Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte will be attending the meetings of the Committee and the next meeting will begin with the Attorney General giving an outline of the Bill. He also said that the National Security Advisor and representatives of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and Jamaica Defence Force will be invited to attend the meetings.

I am not sure of the full membership of the Joint Select Committee, but present today were MPs Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, Evon Redman and Floyd Green and Senator Pearnel Charles, Jr. Apologies were tendered for MP Peter Bunting and Senators Mark Golding and Ransford Braham. (Marlene Malahoo Forte was present in her capacity as Attorney General, from Minister Chuck’s comments.)

The Committee is attempting to complete its work in a very short period, with very limited notice to the public for submissions, which may jeopardize the “closer scrutiny of the Parliament in a joint select committee” contemplated by the Prime Minister when he tabled the Bill.

Previous blog post in which I raised questions & concerns about the Bill: Yes, You Do Get to Ask Questions About the Zones of Special Operations Act


8 Comments

Parliament: Weekly Photo Challenge – Order

“This week, share your take on order, whether literal, figurative, or anything in between (and sure — showing it next to a healthy dose of messiness is fine, too). From library stacks to sock drawers and from ancient temples to modern train stations, let your inner disciplinarian take over.”

The Chamber in our Parliament at Gordon House can seem so orderly when it’s empty.P1150409The Speaker of the House has the responsibility to ensure that Members of Parliament observe the rules of order of the House.  P1150419Copies of laws – in weighty tomes – sit in the Chamber, a reminder of the general need for law and order….P1150427

Weekly Photo Challenge – Order


14 Comments

Bernie Cassius Anolis: Weekly Photo Challenge – Friend

“This week, share an image of a friend.”

I first noticed him hanging out in my dining room and living room sometime towards the end of last year. He was so bold, walking all over the walls, leaping onto the furniture, scurrying across the floor to snap up an unsuspecting beetle. Totally unperturbed by the people in the rooms, chatting or eating or drinking tea. This beautiful Turquoise anole (Anolis grahami), a species originally endemic to Jamaica.Bernie 2

When I posted his picture on Facebook, Yolanda said he looked like a Bernie. My brother Michael said, “He has a lean and hungry look”. So he became Bernie Cassius Anolis.Bernie

Can a lizard be a friend? By some definition, I have decided yes.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Friend


8 Comments

Increased Police Killings, Privacy & Other Concerns: INDECOM’S 1st Quarterly Report 2017

Jamaica’s Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is a Commission of Parliament mandated “to undertake investigations concerning actions by members of the Security Forces and other agents of the State that result in death or injury to persons or the abuse of the rights of persons”. (INDECOM Act) The Commission began work in late 2010 and submits annual and quarterly reports to Parliament; these reports are available to the public and many are posted on INDECOM’s website. The reports give both data and analysis regarding the complaints and incidents investigated; they also include reviews of issues of concern to the Commission. In the past, these issues have included

  • deaths in custody
  • deaths of the mentally ill in confrontation with the police
  • command responsibility for the use of force
  • the School Resource Officers Programme
  • firing at vehicles.

1st Quarterly Report 2017

INDECOM 1st Quarterly Report 2017

The 1st Quarterly Report – 2017 was tabled in Parliament earlier this month and INDECOM held a press conference last Friday (May 26, 2017) to discuss the contents of the report.

Part One of the report gives information about new complaints received by INDECOM during the first three months of 2017 and lists the names of the security force-related fatalities, giving the location of each incident and which state agency was involved in the fatality.

Other information, such as Fatal Shootings by Parish, is given.

INDECOM 1st Q report 2017 p 11 chart

Part Two  of the report deals with the work of the Legal Department. It gives information on the Commission’s completed reports for the period and gives details of the recommendations of the Legal Department in 51 fatal shooting incidents. Most of these incidents took place between 2011 – 2015, but there is one case from 2008 and another from 2010. In the majority of these cases, there was the recommendation that no criminal charge be laid or disciplinary action be taken, and that the file be forwarded to the Special Coroner. In one case there was the recommendation that a policeman be charged with murder and in another case there was a confirmation of the DPP’s decision to charge a policeman with murder. INDECOM 1st Q 2017 - cases 1-2INDECOM 1st Q 2017 - case 15INDECOM 1st Q 2017 - case 22INDECOM 1st Q 2017 - case 33

The report also indicates the arrests and charges during the first quarter:INDECOM 1st Q 2017 - arrests and chanrges

Part Three of the report is on Lessons Learnt. It contains alarming data about the sharp increase in the number of people killed by the security forces in the first three months of 2017, when compared to the same period last year – a 75% increase.  This sets out in report form information that INDECOM has already communicated during the year.

The decline in security force fatalities, from above 200 killed per annum, for many years, fell to 115 in 2014. This was a 55% reduction. Fatalities dropped to 101 in 2015 and 111 in 2016.

However, the first quarter of 2017 (Jan – March) has seen a 75% increase in fatal shootings over the same period of 2016; 42 fatalities as against 24 in 2016. NB. 42 fatalities was not reached until mid-May, in 2016.

Fatal shootings in January, 2017, amounted to 19, a figure last observed in January 2014. Explanations provided by the JCF for this increase and subsequent months was reported as a rise in police confrontations with criminal gangs. (p. 31)

INDECOM press conference 26-5-17

Left to right: Denyelle Anderson (Public Relations Officer), Terrence Williams (Commissioner) , Hamish Campbell (Assistant Commissioner)

At the press conference, INDECOM Assistant Commissioner Hamish Campbell gave an update in the number of fatalities, stating that as of May 25, 2017, 64 people had been killed, compared to 44 by the same date in 2016. This is a 45% increase, which is still an alarming figure. He also reported that as of that date, the combined number of people shot and killed or shot and injured by the security forces was 87.

Mr Campbell also spoke about the fact that  46% of the people shot and killed or injured by the security forces in the first quarter of 2017 were not in possession of a firearm and 32% of them were completely unarmed.

INDECOM pictograph p. 31

Pictograph 1: Persons killed or injured without a firearm or in possession of non-firearm weapon (p. 31)

 

The section contains further information about these incidents and concludes as follows:

INDECOM 1st Q report 2017 p 33

Part Four of the report gives information about INDECOM’s meetings with the JCF, its outreach activities and press releases issued.

Additionally, the First Quarterly Report has an article on the issue of privacy and policing, dealing with surveillance, CCTV cameras and the need for regulations in Jamaica governing their use. There is also a review of the Major Organised Crime & Anti-Corruption (MOCA) Bill before Parliament and the concerns INDECOM has about aspects of the Bill. INDECOM Commissioner Terrence Williams spoke about these two issues at the press conference and I will comment on them in a separate blog post.

INDECOM’s Reports are a useful mechanism for the public to track the work of the Commission and some issues of great importance to the society. It is a shame that they are not the subject of more discussion and debate in the Parliament itself.