ONLINE READERS COMMENT: Terrence Williams needs to take his critique to the next level

Monday, August 21, 2017

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Dear editor,

A central theme of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry (WKCOE) 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.

In his extended comment on the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Administrative Review, Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) boss Terrence Williams makes some useful points, including the one above, bemoaning the fact that despite the WKCOE finding failures within the JCF, the JCF continues to deny they exist.

He notes that the JCF 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 WKCOE'”.

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 WKCOE of unknown members of the JCF murdering citizens. They were publicly cross-examined at the WKCOE. 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 murders 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 WKCOE that there were neither plans nor effective procedures to ensure that extrajudicial killings by the police could not take place.

For this, former Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington and former Prime Minister Bruce Golding must take ultimate responsibility 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 action.

Collectively we have to get this point across quickly before the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO) repeats Tivoli 2010.

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 Former Chief of Defence Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force Stewart Saunders, depending on what Police Commissioner George Quallo, Security Minister Robert Montague and Prime Minister Andrew Holness say and do in the next couple of days.

Paul Ward




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