Right Steps & Poui Trees


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350 Words Or Less: What Was The JDF Response To The Commission Of Enquiry Recommendations?

Quite rightly, there are increasing questions about the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) response to the recommendations made by the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry, which examined the 2010 security operation, in which 69 or more people were killed. This comes in the wake of the release of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Administrative Review Report, which has been met with much criticism and calls for its withdrawal.

I hadn’t been able to find online the JDF’s press release sent out in June 2016 after the Commission of Enquiry report was made public. So, two weeks ago I called the JDF and asked for a copy. Within less than half an hour, I received an email with the press release attached.JDF press release re WKGNCOE

The JDF’s release is much shorter and less specific than the similar release by the JCF at the time.

The list of recommendations in Chapter 15 of the Commission’s report included a number of recommendations regarding the JDF. An official public update on the status of the implementation of those recommendations would be in order. Will the JDF give such an update? Will the Government require that the JDF gives such an update? These questions highlight, once again, the need for a post-Enquiry requirement for a structured timetable of official, public updates regarding the implementation of recommendations. These matters are too important to be left to speculation or ad hoc reporting.

WKGN COE rec 15.17WKGN COE rec 15.20WKGN COE rec 15.22WKGN COE rec 15.23WKGN COE rec 15.24 - 26WKGN COE rec 15.28WKGN COE rec 15.31 - 33WKGN COE rec 15.34WKGN COE rec 15.36

Related posts

JCF Administrative Review Committee Clears JCF…Of Pretty Much Everything

Nearly A Year Later: Time for Western Kingston Commission of Enquiry Recommendations Update


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When Will The Public See The JCF Administrative Review Report, Commissioner Quallo?

Last Friday, July 28, 2017, the High Command of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) released the following statement indicating that it has completed an Administrative Review into the May 2010 operation in Western Kingston.JCF release re admin reviews - 28-7-17 aJCF release re admin reviews - 28-7-17 b

Jul.28l.17 – High Command responds to Editorial

The release referred to a Gleaner editorial (actually published on July 24, 2017), which questioned the lack of a public update regarding the JCF’s promised actions in response to the recommendations of the Western Kingston Commission of Enquiry.

The Commission’s report was tabled in Parliament on June 15, 2016, and two weeks later, on June 30, 2016, the JCF issued a press release giving its response to the recommendations made in the Commission’s report. It indicated its position regarding a number of the recommendations –  15.17, 15.18, 15.20, 15.21, 15.22, 15.27, 15.28, 15.30, 15.31 – 15.33, 15.34, 15.35 – saying what actions it intended to take in response.  I do wonder why it took 8 months more (according to last Friday’s press release) for the promised review to begin.

I hope that Commissioner Quallo will make the report public sooner rather than later; it is reportedly now being “shared with the various oversight bodies for the JCF.” Until then, the public will not be able to assess the scope and adequacy of the review or its recommendations. This public accounting is an essential part of the post-Enquiry process.

Twitter Thread

Below is a series of tweets that I made on June 30, 2017, highlighting some issues that ought to be dealt with in the JCF review report.

SG tweet 30-6-17 1SG tweet 30-6-17 2SG tweet 30-6-17 3SG tweet 30-6-17 4SG tweet 30-6-17 5SG tweet 30-6-17 6SG tweet 30-6-17 7SG tweet 30-6-17 8SG tweet 30-6-17 9SG tweet 30-6-17 10SG tweet 30-6-17 11SG tweet 30-6-17 12SG tweet 30-6-17 13SG tweet 30-6-17 14SG tweet 30-6-17 15SG tweet 30-6-17 16SG tweet 30-6-17 17

Related Blog Posts

 

 

 


Apologise for What? – When the state commits human rights abuses

gleaner-headline-5-9-2000-cash-for-street-peopleIn 2000, the Jamaican government agreed to pay compensation to the so-called MoBay street people – homeless Jamaicans, many of whom were living with mental illnesses – who had been rounded up in Montego Bay on the night of July 14, 1999. They were taken by truck to St Elizabeth, where they were callously dumped near a mud lake in the dead of night. After the Commission of Enquiry, the government accepted responsibility and indicated that the sum of J$20,000 per month was to be paid to the victims of its abuse. One of the women who was subjected to this horrendous treatment, Miss Sarah, was subsequently interviewed by a reporter about the news of this compensation. She was asked how she felt about the money that the government would be paying her. Her response was that the money was all well and good, but up to that time no-one had yet come and told her sorry for the way she was treated.

When the state through its agents commits human rights abuses, there are many things that the state has an obligation to do as part of the process towards justice. This includes prompt and effective investigations, actions towards holding those responsible accountable, and steps towards reparation for those harmed by the abuse. An often overlooked step in the reparation process is that of apologising for the harm done.

IACHR & Michael Gayle

In 2005, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published its findings in the petition filed by Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) regarding the death of Michael Gayle, the 26-year-old man who died after being brutally beaten by police and soldiers on the night of August 21, 1999. The Commission made a number of recommendations for action by the Jamaican state. Among those recommendations was that the state should make a public apology to Michael Gayle’s mother, Miss Jenny Cameron:

At the time, the Jamaican government said that it had issued an apology, but Miss Cameron and JFJ, which had made the petition on her behalf, disagreed. This raises issues about the nature of an apology given by the state, where and how it should be given and what it should say. Certainly, the person or people to whom the apology is given should be in no doubt that an apology has been made, nor should the community and country at large.

West Kingston, May 2010

Last week, Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck indicated that the government would within a matter of weeks be issuing an apology to the residents of West Kingston. This was one of the recommendations made in the report of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry, released to the public in June this year.

Some people have again been asking, as they did at the time the report was released, “Apologise for what?” For some, the actions of the police and soldiers during the May 2010 joint security operation were completely justified and they feel that the state has nothing to apologise for. After hearing and examining the evidence put before them during the Enquiry, the Commissioners are of a different opinion.

It is the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) that now forms the government that will deliver the apology in Parliament; it was the JLP that formed the government at the time that human rights violations were carried out in May 2010. Yet, if it had been a PNP administration in government now, they would have had the responsibility to deliver the apology nonetheless, as the state responsibilities continue, whichever party forms the government at a particular time.

A public apology is an important part of justice and reparation, but there must be no misunderstanding that it is all that is needed. There is much additional concrete action that needs to take place to fulfill the recommendations of the Commission of Enquiry and the state’s obligations for accountability (including accountability for crimes committed), for compensation and for measures that will prevent such an occurrence again.

UN Basic Principles & Guidelines

un-logoIn 2005, the United Nations (UN) adopted the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, which is a useful and relevant document.

In the section dealing with Reparations for harm suffered (IX), there is a list of principles which are necessary for full and effective reparation: restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition. Among recommended actions contributing to the principle of satisfaction is:

“Public apology, including acknowledgement of the facts and acceptance of responsibility.” 22.(e)

 

Public apology is there among the many facets to the provision of justice for those who have suffered serious violations of their human rights.

Apologise for what? The Jamaican state must apologise for the human rights abuses carried out by its agents.

 

 


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Report of West Kingston Commission of Enquiry Made Public; Now Online

Today (June 15, 2016), the report of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry was tabled in Parliament by Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck. The report is the culmination of the work of the Commission which began its public hearings on December 1, 2014 and held its final sitting on February 19, 2016.

The three Commissioners who presided over the 90 sittings have now signed off on their report.

WKGNCOE report - signatures

The full report is available on the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) & Parliament websites. Below, I have included links to the report on both sites. The report is in two volumes, the first with the main contents and the second with the Appendices.

In the coming weeks, there will be much review and analysis of the contents and findings of this report. Its release marks the beginning of the next phase of the search for justice for those who died as a result of the May 2010 events. Minister Chuck informed Parliament that a sub-committee of Cabinet would be established to review the report and that the report would also be subject to review in Parliament. It is essential that the wider society engages in this process as well.

Links to Parliament’s website Report of Western Kingston Commission of Enquiry 2016

Click here for Volume 1

(Link to report on Parliament’s website no longer functions. Scroll down to use link to report on Ministry of Justice website. Edited 29/4/17)

WKGNCOE Report Vol 1 (Parliament)

Click here for Volume 2

(Link to report on Parliament’s website no longer functions. Scroll down to use link to report on Ministry of Justice website. Edited 29/4/17)

WKGNCOE report Vol  2 (Parliament) aWKGNCOE report Vol 2 (Parliament) b

Link to MOJ web page with Report of Western Kingston Commission of Enquiry 2016

WKGNCOE cover vol 1

Introductory Sections

Chapters

  • Chapter 1 – Introduction

  • Chapter 2 – Background to the Commission of Enquiry

  • Chapter 3 –  THE SITUATION IN WEST KINGSTON AND RELATED AREAS IN MAY 2010 PRIOR TO THE ATTEMPT TO EXECUTE A PROVISIONAL WARRANT FOR THE ARREST OF CHRISTOPHER “DUDUS” COKE AND THE REASONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE DECLARATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN MAY 2010 – ToR (A)

  • Chapter 4 – THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH, AND BY WHOM, SEVERAL POLICE STATIONS OR OTHER STATE PROPERTY (INCLUDING POLICE OR MILITARY VEHICLES) WERE ATTACKED AND DAMAGED OR DESTROYED BY FIREBOMBS, GUNFIRE OR OTHER MEANS DURING OR AROUND THE PERIOD OF THE STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED IN MAY 2010 – ToR (C)                                    &  WHETHER, AND IF SO, UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES, STATE OFFICIALS AND LAW EXFORCEMENT OFFICERS CAME UNDER GUNFIRE ATTACKS DURING MAY 2010 IN INCIDENTS CONNECTED TO THE ATTEMPTS BY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS OF JAMAICA TO ARREST CHRISTOPHER “DUDUS” COKE – ToR (B)

  • Chapter 5 – THE ALLEGATION THAT PERSONS WERE ESPECIALLY ARMED TO REPEL ANY LAW ENFORCEMENT EFFORT TO CAPTURE THE FUGITIVE CHRISTOPHER “DUDUS” COKE AND, IF SO, BY WHOM – ToR (E)                               &  THE CIRCUMSTANCES CONCERNING THE RECOVERY OF ILLEGAL FIREARMS AND OTHER MUNITIONS IN WESTERN KINGSTON OR ANY RELATED OR AFFECTED AREAS – ToR (M)

  • Chapter 6 – WHAT WERE THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH, AND BY WHOM, EMBATTLEMENTS AND BARRIERS WERE SET UP IN TIVOLI GARDENS, AND WHETHER EFFORTS WERE MADE, AND BY WHOM, TO RESTRICT INGRESS AND EGRESS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS OR TO PREVENT THE ARREST OF CHRISTOPHER “DUDUS” COKE – ToR (F)

  • Chapter 7 – WHAT ARRANGEMENTS WERE MADE, AND WHAT PRECAUTIONS WERE TAKEN, TO PROTECT CITIZENS IN TIVOLI GARDENS AND OTHER AFFECTED AREAS FROM UNNECESSARY INJURY OR PROPERTY DAMAGE DURING THE LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTION IN THE STATE OF EMERGENCY, AND THE ADEQUACY AND APPROPRIATENESS OF THOSE ARRANGEMENTS AND PRECAUTIONS IN THE PREVAILING CIRCUMSTANCES – ToR (G)

  • Chapter 8 – THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH, AND THE PERSONS BY WHOM, PRIVATE PROPERTY WAS DAMAGED OR DESTROYED DURING OR AROUND THE PERIOD OF THE STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED IN MAY 2010 – ToR (I)                                                                                                                                              & WHETHER MONIES, BENEFITS OR COMPENSATION WERE PROVIDED BY THE STATE TO COMPENSATE RESIDENTS OF WESTERN KINGSTON INCLUDING TIVOLI GARDENS AND, IF SO, HOW MUCH WAS ACTUALLY PAID OR DISTRIBUTED, THE MANNER AND RECORDING OF SUCH PAYMENT OR DISTRIBUTION, AND THE ADEQUACY OF SUCH COMPENSATION – ToR (Q)

  • Chapter 9 – WHETHER, AND IF SO, UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES, CIVILIANS, POLICE OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS OF THE JAMAICA DEFENCE FORCE WERE SHOT AND KILLED OR INJURED DURING MAY 2010 IN CONNECTION WITH THE SECURITY FORCES SEEKING TO EFFECT THE ARREST OF CHRISTOPHER “DUDUS” COKE ON A PROVISIONAL WARRANT IN EXTRADITION PROCEEDINGS – ToR (H)

  • Chapter 10 –  WHETHER THE RIGHTS OF ANY PERSON OR PERSONS WERE VIOLATED IN ANY OF THE AFFECTED OR RELATED COMMUNITIES BY EITHER LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS OR BY ANYONE ELSE AND, IF SO, WHOSE RIGHTS WERE VIOLATED, AND THE MANNER AND EXTENT OF SUCH VIOLATIONS, AND BY WHOM SUCH VIOLATIONS WERE PERPETRATED – ToR (J)

  • Chapter 11 – THE CHAIN OF COMMAND IN RELATION TO THE DECISIONS CONCERNING THE OPERATIONS BY THE SECURITY FORCES IN TIVOLI GARDENS AND RELATED AREAS DURING MAY 2010, AND THE RESPECTIVE RESPONSIBILITIES OF EACH PERSON IN THAT CHAIN OF COMMAND – ToR (K)    & WHETHER ANY DERELICTION OF DUTY OR UNLAWFUL CONDUCT IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO ANY PERSON OR PERSONS IN THAT CHAIN OF COMMAND IN CONNECTION WITH THE DECISIONS CONCERNING OR THE EXECUTION OF THE OPERATIONS BY THE SECURITY FORCES IN TIVOLI GARDENS AND RELATED AREAS DURING MAY 2010 AND, IF SO, TO WHICH PERSON OR PERSONS, AND THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF SUCH DERELICTIONS OF DUTY OR UNLAWFUL CONDUCT – ToR (L)

  • Chapter 12 – WHETHER THERE WAS ANY DIRECT OR INDIRECT COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE FUGITIVE CHRISTOPHER “DUDUS” COKE AND ANY JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL (OR OFFICIALS) OR ANY AGENT THEREOF, DURING THE PERIOD BETWEEN WHEN THE REQUEST FOR EXTRADITION WAS FIRST COMMUNICATED TO THE JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT OR ANY OF ITS AGENTS OR OFFICIALS AND WHEN THE FUGITIVE CHISTOPHER “DUDUS” COKE WAS ARRESTED; AND IF SO, BY WHICH OFFICIALS AND/OR AGENTS THEREOF, THE NATURE OF ANY OR ALL SUCH COMMUNICATIONS, BY WHAT MEANS, AND FOR WHAT PURPOSE – ToR(N)                                                          & WHETHER COPIES OF AFFIDAVITS AND OTHER CONFIDENTIAL SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS ATTACHED TO OR RELATED TO THE REQUEST FOR EXTRADITION OF CHRISTOPHER “DUDUS” COKE WERE FOUND IN COKE’S OFFICES, AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH AND THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH THOSE DOCUMENTS CAME TO BE THERE – TOR(O)

  • Chapter 13 – THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE FUGITIVE CHRISTOPHER “DUDUS” COKE MANAGED TO ELUDE ARREST DURING AND AFTER THE OPERATION BY THE SECURITY FORCES OF JAMAICA IN TIVOLI GARDENS AND RELATED AREAS IN MAY 2010, AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS CAPTURE – ToR (P)

  • Chapter 14 – THE CONDUCT OF OPERATIONS BY THE SECURITY FORCES OF JAMAICA IN TIVOLI GARDENS AND RELATED AREAS DURING THE SAID STATE OF EMERGENCY IN THE MONTH OF MAY 2010 – ToR (D)

  • Chapter 15 – Recommendations

    WKGNCOE cover vol 2

    Volume 2 – Appendices

  • Appendices 1-30 & AC1-14 can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate tab on the MOJ web page.

(I discovered yesterday that the links to the report online at the time I published this post were no longer working. The Parliament link no longer functions and the Ministry of Justice links had changed when it updated its website. I have gone through and updated the links for the report on the Ministry of Justice website; they are all working now. My apologies if you tried unsuccessfully to use the post to access the report. Edited 29/4/2017)

 


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While Waiting for the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry Report

May 24 will make 6 years since the 2010 joint security operation in West Kingston, which resulted in the death of more than 70 people, and by all indications the report of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry will be submitted to the Governor General before then. It isn’t yet clear, however, when the report will be made public. It would certainly be fitting if that were to happen before May 24.

The last session of the Enquiry took place between February 8 – 19 (2016) and was to a large extent overshadowed by the political campaigning leading up to the general election on February 25.

The Commission held its first sitting on December 1, 2014 and held a total of 90 sittings over 15 months. It was presided over by three commissioners – Sir David Simmons (Chairman), Justice Hazel Harris and Professor Anthony Harriott.

The Enquiry had specific Terms of Reference (Terms of Reference for the Commission of Enquiry into events which occured in Western Kingston and related areas in May 2010) and more than 90 witnesses gave testimony, including:

  • residents of West Kingston
  • former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, former Minister of National Security Dwight Nelson, former Attorney General & Minister of Justice Dorothy Lightbourne
  • former Chief of Defence Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Major General Stewart Saunders and other members of the JDF
  • former Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington and other members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force
  • former Public Defender Earl Witter, QC
  • other civilian witnesses, public officials and expert witnesses.

The release of the report will raise again for discussion the value of having had the Enquiry. In this regard, comments made by Lord Anthony Gifford, QC, who represented the Office of the Public Defender (OPD), are important; the comments were made on February 18, 2016, at the start of his final submissions to the Commission.

WKGNCOE Gifford 18-2-16

Seated behind Lord Anthony Gifford is Mrs Arlene Harrison-Henry, the current Public Defender

Lord Gifford thanked former Public Defender Earl Witter for having called for the Enquiry,and for his work on investigations towards  that end. He then went on to address the Chairman on the importance of holding the Enquiry:

Mr Chairman, we are going to be urging that you and your colleagues make strong findings in relation to a number of human rights abuses. We hope and trust that your report will be a historic document, which will reduce or eliminate such abuses in the future. But Mr Chairman, I would like to say publicly to those who have had doubts about the value of this enquiry that already the process, which has happened over the last  90 days (but in fact, year and a quarter) has had in itself immense value. And I say that for three reasons.

First of all, it has shown that an event which has cost around 70 lives in one operation cannot be swept under the carpet. It is legally a part of the duty of the state under the right to life, that when life is taken by agents of the state there must be a full and impartial enquiry. So that what has been done was necessary by the Constitution and by international principles.

And in the holding of it and the managing of it, I pay tribute to the even-handedness of you, Mr Chairman, and the intense interest, dedication that you all have shown, especially, may I say, at times when the argument has been robust or the scenes have been emotional. And coupled with thanks to you, I would thank your Secretary and all her staff for the efficient assistance which they have given.

It’s not just a question of law. The second value of the process so far has been that voices, it has enabled the voices of the residents, many residents of Tivoli Gardens to be heard. These are voices which are normally not heard but they have been heard over the last year, the length and breadth of Jamaica and further afield. And I thank the members of the media who have enabled the transmission of these hearings, to all those (and there are many) who have watched them or listened to them in their workplace or their homes. And those voices have been the heart of this enquiry. I would like to pay tribute to the courage of the civilian witnesses, who came forward, re-living the pain of their experiences as they spoke about the loved ones who are here no more. And I say to those witnesses, without your participation, this enquiry would have had little or no value.

Mr Chairman, thirdly, it has been valuable because this enquiry has required those who hold and have held some of the highest offices in the land to come here, account for their actions and be subjected to severe and intense questioning and scrutiny. That does not usually happen. People like the Chief of the General Staff and the Police Commissioner don’t often have to answer questions in justification of what they did. And the exercise has been very revealing. And that is why I wanted to say that, quite apart from the contents of your report, what has happened already has had value in recognizing the pain, the trauma and by re-living it and questioning it to make it bring some kind of understanding and, in due course, we hope closure.

(Transcript made from February 18, 2016 broadcast of Enquiry)

The Submissions and Recommendations made by the OPD are posted on its website, which is  welcome and useful. The OPD’s April 2013 Interim Report to Parliament is also available on the site.

OPD WKGNCOE submissions pic OPD Written Submissions to Commission of Enquiry

OPD WKGNCOE recommendations picOPD Recommendations to Commission of Enquiry

OPD Tivoli Interim Report picOPD April 2013 Interim Report to Parliament

Horace LevyHorace Levy has written an article summarizing the OPD’s Submissions and Recommendations, which can be accessed here.

The West Kingston Commission of Enquiry is part of a process. The publishing of the report will not signal the end of that process. It is one more step or milestone in a much longer journey towards accountability and justice for the largest loss of life in a single security operation in Jamaica since Independence (indeed, since the Morant Bay Rebellion in 1865, though some object to this reference).