Tue | Jan 22, 2019

George Davis | Burying the truth with Keith Clarke

Published:Tuesday | April 24, 2018 | 12:00 AM

It is indeed saddening that recent crucial developments in the case brought against three Jamaica Defence Force soldiers implicated in the killing of Keith Clarke threaten to steer the matter away from what appeared an inevitable collision with justice.

The statement, signed by former National Security Minister Peter Bunting, which purports to indemnify the actions of the soldiers, may not only frustrate the Clarke family's pursuit of justice, but could deny the public the opportunity to learn crucial things about how our security forces are directed to engage by their superior officers in cases where a state of public emergency is declared.

There are some in this country who, despite the findings of the David Simmons commission of enquiry, swear that most of those killed in the 2010 Tivoli Gardens siege were murdered. And those same persons will tell you that the shoot-first-ask-no-questions approach of the security forces inside Tivoli, grounded in un-intelligence, was exactly the prescription given to Keith Clarke on that fateful night of May 27, 2010.

The public's understanding of what happened in Tivoli during the hunt for Dudus was helped significantly by the testimonies at the Simmons enquiry. But at the start of the process, we were told to expect nothing on the killing of Keith Clarke as that matter was before the court.

In my reading of the terms of reference handed to Simmons et al, the killing of Keith Clarke would have been discussed under no fewer than six of the 14 points of investigation:

- (d) the conduct of operations by the security forces of Jamaica in Tivoli Gardens and related areas during the said state of emergency in the month of May 2010;

- (g) what arrangements were made, and what precautions were taken, to protect citizens in Tivoli Gardens and other affected areas from unnecessary injury or property damage during the law enforcement action in the state of emergency, and the adequacy and appropriateness of those arrangements and precautions in the prevailing circumstances;

- (i) the circumstances under which, and by whom, private property was damaged or destroyed during or around the period of the state of emergency declared in May 2010,

- (j) whether the rights of any person or persons were violated in any of the affected or related communities by either law enforcement officers or by anyone else and, if so, whose rights were violated, and the manner and extent of such violations, and by whom such violations were perpetrated;

- (k) the chain of command in relation to the decisions concerning the operations by the security forces in Tivoli Gardens and related areas during May 2010 and the respective responsibilities of each person in that chain of command;

- (l) whether any dereliction of duty or unlawful conduct is attributable to any person or persons in that chain of command in connection with the decisions concerning or the execution of the operations by the security forces in Tivoli Gardens and related areas during May 2010 and, if so, to which person or persons, and the nature and extent of such dereliction of duty or unlawful conduct.

So with these points of examination as it relates to Keith Clarke's killing omitted from the Simmons enquiry, aligned with the real possibility that nothing will ever be said in a court of law about those and related issues, can anyone credibly say we are a country serious about justice?

Who or what process will reveal the identity of the superior officers who gave the foot soldiers the intelligence that Dudus was holed up at Keith Clarke's premises? Who or what process will reveal the nature of the intelligence that led to the operation and the specific orders given to the security forces?

Who or what process will explain precisely why the Clarke residence was shot full of holes and a man killed in his bedroom?

This caan go suh!


- George Davis is a broadcast executive producer and talk-show host. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and george.s.davis@hotmail.com.