We’ll need a Commission of Enquiry

Monday, May 24, 2010    

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WHEN some semblance of quiet has finally returned, there may have to be a Commission of Enquiry into the stranger-than-fiction events surrounding the proposed extradition of Mr Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

Quite apart from the fact that the developments have left prime minister, Mr Bruce Golding and his Government hanging by a thread, the State under threat, and Jamaicans traumatised, there are several questions that should be asked and answered relating to the approach and strategies adopted by the security forces.

To begin with, how is it that criminals and their supporters in and around Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston were able to set up massive barricades blocking entrance to the community without the immediate or pre-emptive intervention of the security forces? And how is it that a large protest march which we assume was unauthorised was allowed to proceed through the streets of downtown Kingston with a section of that march coming within hailing distance of the parliament building?

In the context of unfolding events, including yesterday's declaration of a limited State of Public Emergency in Kingston and St Andrew, such questions may seem trivial to some. In fact, this newspaper believes they go to the very heart of the issue.

Could it be that at an operational level, the police High Command is so lacking in vision and proactive capacity that it did not rehearse and plan for the events of last week? Or is it that the much-pronounced operational independence of the police is no more than a poorly-constructed mirage.

We note that disturbing questions have been raised about Mr Golding's true intentions in announcing his Government's complete about-face on the extradition process during an address to the nation.

But even if, as has been suggested in some quarters, the West Kingston gangsters knew about the Government's change of heart even before the security forces, there seems no logical explanation for the failure to prevent unlawful elements from doing as they pleased.

We would suggest to police commissioner, Owen Ellington, and his team that immediate and proper pre-emptive action would have exemplified the high level of professionalism he has been promising law-abiding residents of West Kingston and the wider Jamaica over recent days.

Perhaps the bloodshed and mayhem that has accompanied some police operations in West Kingston, down the years, stayed the hand of the authorities this time around. But at a time when our political leaders have so compromised themselves that every word and deed is open to question, it is very important that the High Command of the security forces be seen to be above the fray and able to act properly in defence of law and order.

It cannot be that under any circumstances they should simply look on while criminals turn a community into a no-go zone.





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