Letters to the Editor

In the wake of Mario Deane's death...

Friday, August 15, 2014    

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Dear Editor,

The horrific stripping away of the life of Mario Deane while in the custody of the police has received the most robust reaction from the Jamaican public I have ever seen.

As Jamaicans, at least starting with this matter, we are finally shouting that enough is indeed enough!

While the true events leading up to the gruesome death of Mario are yet to be revealed, and I have all confidence that they will, there is one undeniable fact, and that is that Mario met his demise while in the custody of those who swore to "serve, protect and reassure" him.

I believe this incident hits us to the core of our being, because it is a harsh image as to how we all might meet our demise while in the hands of the island's constabulary force, no matter the reason for which we are jailed.

What I am most proud of is the fact that the reaction of the community and civil society groups alike pushed the Jamaican Government to finally zero in on the questionable activities of the police and how they treat citizens, much to the displeasure of the Government, who would rather have us discuss the decriminalisation of ganja instead of the death of a mother's child in police custody.

Out of this sad and very important issue must come the following:

1. Strict measures clearly outlining regulations and standards for the treatment of citizens while in lock-up, regardless of the reason they are jailed; be it for a spliff or even mistaken identity.

2. Regulations as to how inmates are housed in lock-up, because I am yet to fathom why, according to the police, Deane was placed in lock-up with mentally unstable men.

3. Placement of closed-circuit television/recordings inside lock-ups, monitored offsite by INDECOM. The reason for this is very obvious. I would rather $57 million be used to upgrade police stations to protect citizens than to fund Independence celebrations -- but that is another issue for another day.

4. A clear reminder of the police as to the regulations of the Bail Act, with stiff penalties for any violation of the same.

5. The officers who should have seen to it that Deane and all other citizens in lock-up were safe at all times, should be charged with, at the very least, negligence and misconduct, and penalties ranging from termination to jail time be meted out to them; because we, the Jamaican people, have lost all confidence in their commitment to "serve, protect and reassure" us.

6. Mario Deane's family must be duly compensated by the Jamaican Government for all the expenses incurred as a consequence of their son being killed while in police custody.

7. Finally, both the ministers of justice and national security must present to the Jamaican people clear and comprehensive guidelines, within the next three months, which will assure us that the recurrence of this incident will not be tolerated.

As stakeholders of this growing, broken, yet redeemable nation, let us continue to pressure those who commit themselves to public service to do so with integrity and respect for human life, because only then will "justice, truth be ours forever".

Omrie Samuels

omries@hotmail.com

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