No political mockery, pleas


Sunday, March 09, 2014    

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Here we go again, another enquiry into a past event that may result in nothing but an elaborate expenditure of taxpayers' money, comedic release, a façade of civil justice and political expediency.

There arose a need for an enquiry after the long-awaited public defender's interim report recommended an investigation into what really took place during the Tivoli Gardens incursion of May 2010.

The recommendation for an enquiry came about following the death of at least 73 people, according to the official count (some residents suggest that as many as 200 may have been killed), and widespread allegations that these were extrajudicial killings by the security forces.

Public Defender Earl Witter maintained that his report on the 2010 Tivoli massacre should remove any doubt that there needs to be an independent public enquiry into this matter. He termed it to be "of the gravest concern as well as immense public importance", in his 257-page report tabled in Parliament.

Despite the need for cutbacks on spending, the Government was lured into conducting the enquiry, and the appointment of commissioners to preside over the enquiry came into full effect. Seeking an unbiased evaluation of the matter, the Government went in search of a foreign commissioner to head the enquiry and formal approval was sought from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen at the end of the search.

The recent newspaper headline 'GG appoints high-profile team to head Tivoli Enquiry' suggests high-profile money and plenty of time. The question now is, can Jamaica afford another enquiry that, based on past experience, may not fulfil its role of bringing justice to those who need it most?

No money can compensate for what took place in Tivoli in May 2010, and if at this stage an enquiry is the best means of bringing about some form of closure for the residents of West Kingston, then by all means let's do this.

However, if this is going to be another seemingly aimless digging into events that will result in repetitive statements of "I can't recall", let us not start.

The Manatt, Phelps and Phillips enquiry was one such example of exorbitant spending and equally exorbitant theatrics. If only a few months after the US firm was retained to lobby against the extradition of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, members of the then ruling party were unable to "recall", then one can conclude that these said officials will not be able to "recall" events that happened almost four years ago.

God forbid it be so, as this is not a frivolous matter. Blood was shed, lives were taken and some lives have never been the same. This cannot be treated as another platform for our politicians to hoist their "intelligence", comedic potential, or seek expediency.

The residents of Tivoli Gardens deserve the utmost care and respect for all their rights that were trampled during the incursion. So I beg, on behalf of the citizens of West Kingston, and all the taxpayers of Jamaica, that this enquiry be not taken lightly.

Let this not be treated as a playground for frivolous word fights and comedic relief, exhausting airtime and, of course, exhausting money.

Let us also be careful that the ruling People's National Party (PNP) does not use this as a platform to launch themselves into another electoral victory. Puzzled I am to see that the PNP can be so steadfast in realising justice for residents of Tivoli Gardens, yet the party has rejected calls to find out exactly what happened with Finsac.

Kimberly Wilson is a final year journalism student at Northern Caribbean University.

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