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West Kgn residents lining up for enquiry

Published:Tuesday | November 25, 2014 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett

RESIDENTS FROM several communities in west Kingston are beginning to come forward in droves to give evidence before the commission of enquiry to be convened to investigate the 2010 police-military incursion into their communities.

Maria Jones, secretary to the commission, revealed yesterday that more than 200 persons have already signalled their intention to participate in the enquiry, which is scheduled to begin hearings on Monday.

There were concerns last month that west Kingston residents were ignoring the enquiry. The commission reported then that no one had come forward to give evidence at the hearings, despite two public advertisements inviting their participation.

"We have passed that stage now ... . As of now, we have had approximately 250 persons from the western Kingston communities coming in to indicate their desire to participate in the enquiry," Jones told The Gleaner yesterday.

At the same time, Jones revealed that attorneys representing the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) have applied for standing that would allow them to participate in the hearings.

Section 12 of the procedural rules governing the enquiry states that "persons, groups of persons, or organisations who wish to participate in the enquiry may apply for standing".

It also indicates that the commission may allow it "if it is satisfied that an applicant has a substantial and direct interest in the subject matter of the enquiry or that the applicant's participation in the enquiry may be helpful to the commission in fulfilling its mandate".

JLP denies applying for standing

However, JLP spokesman on justice, Senator Alexander Williams, quickly denied Jones' claim that the party has applied for standing.

"We have not done that, we were very deliberate about it. What we have done is we have approached the commission with an offer to the Tivoli Gardens residents for counsel to appear on their behalf," Williams explained.

He underscored that the JLP has an interest in the outcome of the enquiry, but made it clear that "at this point there is no immediate need for the party to apply for standing in its own right".

"I do plan to appear on the 1st of December to observe, and if I feel that the situation has changed, then we would perhaps consider applying for standing, but right now the intention is not to [apply]," Williams continued.

Unlike in the case of the Dudus-Manatt commission of enquiry in 2011, general secretary of the governing People's National Party (PNP), Paul Burke, insisted yesterday that there has been no discussion at the leadership level about any possible participation in the West Kingston enquiry.

Jones revealed that commission chairman, Sir David Simmonds, is scheduled to arrive in Jamaica on Friday to begin preparations, and gave the assurance that hearings will get under way at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston next Monday.

An interim report drafted by the public defender's office revealed that 76 civilians and one member of the JDF were killed during the incursion to capture then fugitive Christopher 'Dudus' Coke on an arrest warrant.