Gov't moving ahead with plans to amend INDECOM Act; police not happy


Gov't moving ahead with plans to amend INDECOM Act; police not happy

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

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JUSTICE Minister Delroy Chuck, declaring that the country has long moved past the days of members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) investigating their colleagues, has doubled down on his proposal to amend the INDECOM Act, a decision likely to sour relations between Government and the police.

“The relationship between INDECOM (Independent Commission of Investigations) and the police is not one of hostility. INDECOM is there to ensure that the police act within their limits on how it deals with the public. INDECOM has been a success story, and there is no doubt that persons who criticise basically can't criticise how well it investigates matters,” Chuck told a press conference at the Ministry of Justice in St Andrew on Friday.

His comments followed a lashing from the Jamaica Police Federation, the body that represents rank and file members of the JCF, which said that the Government is aiding and abetting the erosion of the constitutional rights of the police by granting INDECOM immunity for breaches committed against its members.

The federation also argued that the Government was using INDECOM, the police oversight body, as a weapon against its members with its proposal to make INDECOM a body corporate.

It said that the move is a “disingenuous” way to open the door for the oversight body to get the prosecutorial powers it has always sought.

“If this motion is supported it is a clear demonstration that the Government does not have the best interest of our members at heart and, by their actions, have eroded our trust in their ability to ensure that the rights of those who place their lives on the line daily are not abrogated,” Jamaica Police Federation's Chairman Patrae Rowe said.

But the justice minister defended Government's position, insisting that the JCF cannot investigate itself.

“Persons believe that you should not have civilians investigating the police. I have heard [the] chairman of the police federation saying that police can investigate police. That was the problem before INDECOM started and we're not going to go back there. The truth of the matter is that the police must be prepared to have an oversight body of civilians investigating allegations of their alleged misconduct, of their alleged police shootings, killings and misdemeanours,” the minister said.

“That, to my mind, has been one of the great achievements of INDECOM — that the public at large have had the confidence and trust in bringing their matters to INDECOM. And, I'm sure that that trust and confidence will even improve under Mr [Hugh] Faulkner,” Chuck stated.

Faulkner was last Wednesday sworn in as the new commissioner of INDECOM for a term of five years.

He replaced Commissioner Terrence Williams who last week marked the end of his journey with INDECOM after serving the commission for a decade.

— Kimone Francis

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