Smith gives Bunting 24-hour deadline
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
Opposition spokesman on National Security Derrick Smith yesterday gave his government counterpart, Peter Bunting, 24 hours to shed some light on changes to the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Firearm and Tactical Training Unit (FTTU).
On Wednesday, Smith called on Bunting to tell the country about developments affecting the future of the FTTU, which operates at the Jamaica Police Academy at Twickenham Park in St Catherine.
The opposition spokesman told The Gleaner yesterday that if the minister or the Police High Command refuses to address specific questions raised by him about the unit, he would table questions in the House of Representatives when sittings resume.
QUERYING STATUS OF UNIT
Smith wants to know whether the FFTU was being disbanded and, if so, the reason for such a move. He also queried whether the unit was being targeted as a result of the provisions in the Leahy Act and if plans to disband the unit had any connection with the unit's engagement in the May 2010 Tivoli Gardens incursion.
The opposition spokesman said he had received information that the unit has been blacklisted under the United States' Leahy Amendment, which prohibits the US Department of State and the Department of Defence from providing assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity.
Several calls to Bunting's phone went to voicemail yesterday.
In a release yesterday, the Police High Command sought to comment on Smith's concerns.
"The FTTU, like several other units in the JCF, has and continues to undergo various reviews in a bid to make improvements where necessary. This enhances the utilisation of resources and facilitates greater efficiency and effectiveness," the Police High Command stated.
STICKING TO MANDATE
"While we understand the concerns surrounding the training of members of the JCF in the efficient application of and compliance to human rights, use of force, and firearm policies - a mandate of the FTTU - the Police High Command is reassuring those concerned that the mandate of the FTTU will continue … ."
However, Smith insisted that the Police High Command had not addressed his concerns, noting that it appeared "they are trying to confuse the Jamaican people. It's a deliberate act to obfuscate and confuse the Jamaican people."
The opposition spokesman on national security argued that the response from the senior cops suggested that the Police Service Commission needed to urgently appoint a commissioner.