THE Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) says that there was a four per cent increase in killings attributed to the security forces in 2012.
During 2012, 219 persons were killed by the security forces — nine more than the 210 killed in 2011, INDECOM said in a release yesterday.
According to the Commission's records, the 219 deaths resulted from 182 incidents, all of which involved members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and one involving a member of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).
The highest number of fatalities was the 35 recorded in March, 10 more than the 25 deaths recorded in March 2011. October had the second-highest number, 24 fatalities, representing a 50 per cent increase over the 12 recorded in October 2011. The third highest was in February, when some 20 fatalities were recorded, two more than in the previous year when 18 were recorded. The 10 fatalities recorded in May represented the lowest figure for any month during the year and compared with 18 fatalities in May, 2011.
Commissioner of INDECOM, Terrence Williams said that in the last 15 years, Jamaica has been averaging 200 security force-related fatalities, annually. However, he added that the commission believes in the importance of ascertaining whether the circumstances in which the lives were taken were justified.
"The commission recognises this is a major issue for human rights in Jamaica. The consistently high number speaks to how important it is for the community, at large, to buy into policing. Further, the numbers also suggest something as it relates to the dangerous conditions under which the members of the security forces work," Williams said.
Meanwhile, INDECOM said that it is now wrapping up its probe into a number of high-profile incidents involving the police, including the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Immaculate High School student Vanessa Kirkland. The fifth form student was shot dead last March in Greenwich Town in the Corporate Area, when a police team opened fire on a car suspected to have been involved in a robbery in Portmore in neighbouring St Catherine.
The commission has also completed investigations into the controversial killing of two men by the police in Tredegar Park, St Catherine, in 2010. The two — Derrick Bolton and Rohan Dixon — were killed by the police who were searching for men involved in the Tredegar Park massacre.
Seven policemen and a policewoman, who have refused to co-operate with INDECOM in the investigations, have been charged for breaches of the INDECOM Act and the matter is now before the Court.
The commission was established in 2010 following numerous public complaints against the Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI) of the JCF investigating alleged wrongdoings by the security forces. The public felt that BSI investigations would remain suspicious, as the police should not be investigating itself.