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8 cops convicted for failing to comply with orders from INDECOM

Tuesday, July 29, 2014    

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THE Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) yesterday finally got some convictions in the courts against police officers who had failed to comply with its lawful requests.

Eight police officers, who were brought before the court by INDECOM for failing to comply with a lawful request of the commission, were found guilty by Senior Resident Magistrate Georgiana Fraser.

The eight are Orette Williamson, Gerville Williams, Francis Rennalls, Devon Noble, David Hutchinson, Petro Green, Marcel Dixon and Kenneth Daley.

INDECOM's request for their indictment emanated from an investigation into the fatal shooting of two civilians in August 2010. The officers were charged under Section 33 of the INDECOM Act for disobeying a notice issued to them, pursuant to Section 21 (of the INDECOM Act).

Concerns were raised earlier this year that after four years and more than 2,000 cases of alleged extra-judicial killings and other abuses by members of the security forces, INDECOM had not achieved a single conviction.

Commissioner Terrence Williams pointed to the slow court process as one of the main reasons of this situation.

"A conviction is not a true measure of success. It could misdirect attention to results rather than to be fair and just to all in every case," he told the Kiwanis Club of Kingston in June. Williams also blamed Court delays for the situation and expressed support for efforts to speed up criminal trials.

INDECOM, in a release following yesterday's conviction of the officers, pointed out that it had more than 1,900 ongoing investigations into allegations of abuse by agents of the state, distributed over its three branches -- St James (western office), Mandeville (central office), and Kingston (head office).

"The cases date back to 2008, some two years before INDECOM began operations. Prior to that, they were being investigated by the Police Public Complaints Authority and the Bureau of Special Investigations," the commission explained.

"The allegations are divided into 23 categories. These include fatalities (by shooting or under other circumstances); abuse of office; unprofessional conduct; assault; corruption, rape; misappropriation of property, and threat. The top three allegations are fatal shooting, assault and shooting injury, which when combined, account more than 60 per cent of all our investigations," INDECOM said yesterday.

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) was established following prolonged public complaints about the Bureau of Special Investigations' role in probing wrongdoing of its own members.

Under international law, the State also has an obligation to ensure that independent investigations into a potential breach of the right to life are carried out, as a requirement under Article 2 of the European Convention on the Human Rights, to which Jamaica is a signatory.

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