INDECOM un­der threat!

Hu­man-rights groups con­cerned about fund­ing for po­lice oversight body

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Na­dine Wil­son-Harris Staff Re­porter na­dine.wil­son@glean­erjm.com

THE UNITED Na­tions (UN) Com­mit­tee on Hu­man Rights has raised con­cerns about the sus­tain­abil­ity of the In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion of In­ves­ti­ga­tions (INDECOM), given the fact that a sub­stan­tial amount of the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s bud­get is funded by in­ter­na­tional donors.

The se­cu­rity force oversight body was al­lo­cated a lit­tle over $350 mil­lion in the na­tional Bud­get for this fis­cal year, which is just over $1 mil­lion more than last year’s bud­get. The com­mis­sion has also re­ceived a com­bined to­tal of over $230 mil­lion from the Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (DFID) and the Euro­pean Union (EU).

The sus­tain­abil­ity of INDECOM has been a long-stand­ing is­sue for the UN Com­mit­tee, and was raised again when Ja­maica went up for its fourth re­view in Geneva, Switzer­land, re­cently. Ja­maica was called upon to de­fend its han­dling of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings, as well as is­sues re­lat­ing to the rights of chil­dren in state care and gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

LEVEL OF RE­SOURCES

The com­mit­tee, in March of this year, called into ques­tion the level of re­sources and the man­date of INDECOM, to which the Govern­ment re­sponded in Septem­ber that the com­mis­sion has a bud­get of ap­prox­i­mately $300 mil­lion, which goes pri­mar­ily to­wards salaries and op­er­a­tional ex­penses.

“INDECOM has played an in­valu­able role in re­duc­ing cases of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings and po­lice ex­cesses. In 2015, ninety-eight po­lice killings were

recorded. This rep­re­sents a 16year low and is 15 per cent less than the 129 recorded in 2014, and 42 per cent less than the 258 recorded in 2013,” Ja­maican au­thor­i­ties told the UN Com­mit­tee.

INDECOM was estab­lished in 2010 to in­ves­ti­gate ac­tions by agents of the State, in­clud­ing the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force, Ja­maica De­fence Force and cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers, which re­sult in the in­jur­ing or death of cit­i­zens or the abuse of the rights of per­sons.

Com­mis­sioner of INDECOM Ter­rence Wil­liams noted that while the Govern­ment has al­lo­cated a bud­get, the com­mis­sion

de­pends to a great ex­tent on over­seas fund­ing to fi­nance sig­nif­i­cant as­pects of its op­er­a­tions.

“The Govern­ment of Ja­maica pays most of the salaries and the rent, but most of ev­ery­thing else is done with donor sup­port,” Wil­liams told The Sun­day Gleaner. “Even some salaries are paid for with donor-agency sup­port.

“There are some ar­eas of our op­er­a­tions which, be­cause of the Govern­ment sup­port be­ing so low, we are con­strained to take out of the DFID sup­port. For ex­am­ple, se­cu­rity for our premises and some of our le­gal fees are paid for out of that. Any

ad­ver­tis­ing that we are go­ing to do will be paid for by EU cam­paign. We have hired some in­ves­ti­ga­tors and lawyers based upon EU fund­ing and DFID fund­ing, so the fund­ing is cru­cial to the work of INDECOM,” he ex­plained.

Lo­cal hu­man-rights or­gan­i­sa­tions have also raised con­cerns about the sus­tain­abil­ity of the oversight body. A coali­tion of hu­man-rights groups, which made a sub­mis­sion to the UN Com­mit­tee two weeks ago, noted that while they recog­nised the fi­nan­cial con­straints fac­ing the State, the Govern­ment’s fi­nan­cial sup­port for INDECOM has not been ad­e­quate.

“With­out grants, the ma­jor­ity of its work would be sub­stan­tially re­duced, and it would have to re­duce staff. This fun­da­men­tally threat­ens the sus­tain­abil­ity of INDECOM’s work and its se­cu­rity of in­de­pen­dent op­er­a­tions,” the coali­tion noted.

In this 2013 photo, mem­bers of INDECOM are seen at a crime scene in Den­ham Town, west Kingston, af­ter two men were killed by the po­lice.

Ter­rence Wil­liams, com­mis­sioner of INDECOM.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Jamaica

© PressReader. All rights reserved.