Jus­tice delayed

Chuck ac­cepts need for im­prove­ment as Amnesty In­ter­na­tional re­leases find­ings on ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Jodi-Ann Gilpin Gleaner Writer

JUS­TICE MIN­IS­TER Del­roy Chuck has ac­knowl­edged find­ings by Amnesty In­ter­na­tional that gaps within the ju­di­cial sys­tem are con­tribut­ing to long de­lays faced by fam­ily mem­bers pur­su­ing jus­tice for rel­a­tives who have be­come vic­tims of po­lice killings.

In a re­port re­leased yes­ter­day, the hu­man­rights watch­dog also high­lighted a cul­ture of fear it claims is be­ing pro­moted by mem­bers of the po­lice force in deal­ing with the vic­tims’ rel­a­tives.

The re­port ti­tled Wait­ing in Vain: Un­law­ful Po­lice Killings and Rel­a­tives’ Long Strug­gle for Jus­tice was shared dur­ing a press con­fer­ence held yes­ter­day at the Terra Nova All Suite Ho­tel in St Andrew.

Ac­cord­ing to Amnesty, the re­port ex­plores il­le­gal tac­tics used by po­lice across Ja­maica to en­sure that rel­a­tives of vic­tims of un­law­ful killings by the po­lice do not pur­sue jus­tice, truth, and repa­ra­tion for their loved ones.

The tac­tics in­clude sys­tem­atic in­tim­i­da­tion and ha­rass­ment and threats against rel­a­tives at home, work, hos­pi­tals, and even dur­ing fu­ner­als.

The in­ter­na­tional watch­dog said that while they wel­comed news that there has been a re­duc­tion in po­lice killings be­tween 2014 and 2015, it has found no ev­i­dence of im­proved in­ter­nal ac­count­abil­ity within the force with re­gard to how of­fi­cers op­er­ate.

Amnesty at­trib­uted the re­duc­tion to im­proved in­ves­ti­ga­tion and prose­cu­tion by

the In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion of In­ves­ti­ga­tions (INDECOM) but said there was an ur­gent need to fix the way jus­tice is de­liv­ered.

Chuck said there was no deny­ing that sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment is needed to deal with in­ci­dents of crime.

He also sought to in­form the pub­lic that

there were av­enues avail­able through which fam­i­lies could claim com­pen­sa­tion.

“We ad­mit that there are sig­nif­i­cant de­lays in the de­liv­ery of jus­tice, espe­cially in the courts, and it is a mat­ter that we are

work­ing on to see how we can re­duce the ex­ces­sive de­lays in the sys­tem,” he said.

“To the ex­tent that they have good claims for com­pen­sa­tion, then it should be a mat­ter that should be dealt with ex­pe­di­tiously, too. Once they bring a claim against the at­tor­ney gen­eral, then we hope that these mat­ters can be dealt with in a man­ner so that com­pen­sa­tion, if rec­om­mended or if there is success, can be done in a quick man­ner,” he said.

“The real prob­lem is to get the mat­ters through the courts. Once they come through the courts, then com­pen­sa­tion au­to­mat­i­cally fol­lows, but the prob­lem is the slow process in the courts that is mak­ing a mock­ery of the de­liv­ery of jus­tice in Ja­maica,” he de­clared.

Louise Til­lot­son, Caribbean re­searcher for Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, told The Gleaner that in­ter­views were con­ducted with more than 50 rel­a­tives (39 women and 14 men) of 28 peo­ple be­lieved to have been un­law­fully killed by the po­lice be­tween 2003 and 2014.

She said that most had ex­pe­ri­enced in­tense and per­va­sive ha­rass­ment and in­tim­i­da­tion by po­lice in their pur­suit of jus­tice, caus­ing them fur­ther men­tal suf­fer­ing.

“What was over­whelm­ing for me is that there is a lot of fear within com­mu­ni­ties. De­spite a huge amount of pain, de­spite lengthy in­ter­views, they were of­ten re­luc­tant for us to print their names or even the name of the per­son who is de­ceased. They have al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced ha­rass­ment, in­tim­i­da­tion, and reprisals in their com­mu­ni­ties, and so there is this big cul­ture of silence, and that, of course, drives im­punity,” she told The Gleaner.

Til­lot­son also be­moaned the fact that a huge bur­den is left on women and chil­dren, espe­cially, as more men con­tinue to be the vic­tims of crim­i­nal in­ci­dents when com­pared with fe­males.

“What we found is that of­ten­times, it’s the women in the fam­ily who are left to pur­sue jus­tice. As we know, many of the fa­tal shoot­ings, with the ex­cep­tion of a few, are of men, and this has long-term economic im­pli­ca­tions and other things for the house­hold,” she said.

Var­i­ous fam­ily mem­bers were rep­re­sented for the re­lease of the Amnesty re­port, in­clud­ing the mother of Mario Deane, Mer­cia Frazer; Shack­eilia Jack­son, who is the sis­ter of Robert ‘Nakia’ Jack­son, who was al­legedly killed by po­lice at his cook shop on Or­ange Street in Kingston; and Jewel Blake, mother of Kirk Jones, who was killed in 2011.

RUDOLPH BROWN/PHOTOGRAPHER

Jewel Black, mother of Kirk Jones, who was killed by the se­cu­rity forces, breaks down in tears dur­ing yes­ter­day’s re­lease of an Amnesty In­ter­na­tional re­port into the impact of po­lice killings on fam­i­lies of vic­tims, which took place at the Terra Nova All Suite Ho­tel in St Andrew.

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