Letters to the Editor

INDECOM's Terrence Williams is only halfway there

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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Dear Editor,

In his extended comment on the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) administrative review, Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) boss Terrence Williams makes some useful points. He bemoans the fact that, despite the failures found within the JCF by the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry, the review continues to deny that they exist.

He writes, inter alia: “A central theme of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry was in identifying the collective command failures and the individual responsibilities of senior officers — there ought to be no need to argue anymore about these things.”

He notes that the review was flawed because it did not examine witnesses or hear any submissions from interested parties, except the JCF: “What the JCF administrative review has done is to repeat and rehearse the original submissions of the JCF, which were unsuccessful, before the commisson.”

He takes issue with section 7.31 of the review which says: “The commission concluded that a number of persons were probably killed by members of the security forces. This is highly speculative, as no credible evidence was led at the enquiry to substantiate this finding.”

Williams comments as follows: “A number of civilians and members of the military gave evidence to the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry of unknown members of the JCF murdering citizens. They were publicly cross-examined... Now the JCF administrative review finds that they are all not credible without even hearing from them.”

Although the five named officers were not involved on the ground in 2010, Williams explains why their dereliction of duty was so significant, making it impossible to track down who in the JCF, or which gun, was responsible for the killings by police. As a result, the review is able to say in section 6.17 (for lack of data): “All weapons assigned to the JCF officers who participated in the operation, were tested and ballistic certificates issued. All ballistic signatures from those weapons were compared against bullet fragments retrieved from the bodies of the deceased persons, and no match was found.”

What Williams does not do, though, is to take the 'command failures' to their rightful conclusion. It was clear from the commission that there were neither plans nor effective procedures to ensure that extrajudicial killings by the police could not take place. For this former Police Commissioner Owen Ellington must take ultimate responsibility, and also former Prime Minister Bruce Golding for signing off on a plan, and a state of emergency, which would likely result in the devastation that occurred. Also, both had ample opportunity during the three-day curfew to stop the mayhem which they knew was going on, and neither took any action.

We have to get this point across quickly before the zones of special operation initative repeats Tivoli 2010.

Commissioner Terrence Williams is halfway there, blaming the police culture rather than the superior commanders. But he might yet add his voice to the call for indictment of Golding, Ellington and Saunders, depending on what new Commissioner George Quallo, National Security Minister Robert Montague, and Prime Minister Holness say and do in the next couple of days.

Paul Ward

Campaign for Social & Economic Justice

Kingston 7

pgward72@gmail.com

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