Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Dorothy Lightbourne in the dark on Tivoli Gardens Compensation

Published:Monday | February 16, 2015 | 6:05 PMLivern Barrett
Former Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne at the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry at the Jamaica Conference Centre, yesterday.

Former Justice Minister and Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne has revealed that she was in the dark when her administration discussed the issue of compensation for residents of west Kingston whose properties were destroyed or damaged during the 2010 police-military operations in their community.
Lightbourne testified before the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry yesterday that she was not aware of "any such monies, benefits, or compensation being paid to the residents of western Kingston".
"While I was there after the disturbances, my opinion was not sought as regards liabilities and quantum of any money to be paid," she said in response to a question from her attorney, Alexander Williams, as he led her through her evidence.
"No such advice was sought of me, and I gave none," Lightbourne insisted.
According to the former attorney general, this was not the way compensation was normally handled by the Government at the time.
"The usual course, when compensation is contemplated, is [that] it is done through the attorney general's chambers," she testified.
Among the commission's terms of reference is to determine whether monies, benefits, or compensation were provided by the State to residents of west Kingston, including Tivoli Gardens, and if so, how much was paid or distributed, the manner and recording of such payment, and distribution and adequacy of such compensation.
The commission has already heard evidence that the State paid up to $15,000 each to west Kingston residents for damage to their property and to assist with funeral expenses.
Small sums paid
Lightbourne, however, acknowledged that under the Citizen Security and Justice Programme, small sums of money were paid to persons whose homes had been damaged.
The former justice minister and attorney general also testified that she had "absolutely no knowledge" of whether documents related to the extradition request for drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke were found at his office in Tivoli Gardens.
The commission has also been charged, as part of its terms of reference, to determine whether copies of affidavits and other confidential supporting documents attached to, or related to, Coke's extradition request were found inside his office and the circumstances under which and the purposes for which those documents came to be there.
"Do you have any knowledge of this?" Williams asked his client.
"I have absolutely no knowledge of what, if anything [was found at Coke's office]. I don't even know if anything was found," Lightbourne responded.
Noting that there has been no allegation before the commission that documents were found inside Coke's office, Williams questioned the basis for its inclusion as one of the terms of reference.
"What we are here responding to is something without, at this point, any supporting documentation," the attorney complained.
However, commission chairman Sir David Simmons noted that if this is so, "at the end of the hearing, we will make the appropriate finding".
Regretted loss of lives
Former National Security Minister Dwight Nelson also wrapped up his testimony before the enquiry yesterday, saying he regretted the loss of lives during the May 2010 police-military operations to arrest Coke.
An interim report by the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) concluded that 76 civilians and one member of the Jamaica Defence Force were killed in the operations.
During cross-examination by attorney-at-law Michael Lorne, who is representing the OPD, Nelson revealed that he got no assurance from the security forces on the measures they would take to differentiate between criminals and law-abiding citizens.
Lightbourne will face further cross-examination when the enquiry resumes this morning.