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West Kingston commission's invitation to public accepted

Published:Tuesday | November 10, 2015 | 11:00 AMGary Spaulding
Carol Narcisse
Horace Levy
Dennis Meadows
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Sector interests have found favour with the invitation to Jamaicans by the west Kingston commission of enquiry to participate by submitting their own batch of recommendations.

The commission stated in a notice published in The Sunday Gleaner of November 8 that this is aimed at preventing a recurrence of events that occurred in May 2010.

"I think it is a novel idea and a demonstration by the commissioners to make it a true public enquiry," said Dennis Meadows, co-convener of Citizens Action for Principle and Integrity (CAPI).

Meadows told The Gleaner that he did not recall this ever being done before by any of the numerous commissions of enquiry that have been established in the past.

"So far, the commissioners', particularly Sir (David) Simmons', stewardship, have engendered public confidence," he added.

The other commissioners of the member body are Professor Anthony Harriott and Hazel Harris.

Said Meadows: "This move augurs well for any findings and recommendations that will be forthcoming from the enquiry."

More than 70 lives were reportedly lost in the bloody events as police-military personnel attempted to regain control of sections of west Kingston, when they moved in to arrest former Tivoli Gardens kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

The commission has been mandated to enquire into, among other things, the situation in west Kingston and related areas in May 2010, before the attempt to execute a provisional warrant in extradition proceedings relating to Coke, and the reasons and circumstances surrounding the declaration of a state of emergency that month.

It is also expected to determine whether, and, if so, under what circumstances, state officials and law-enforcement officers came under gunfire attacks during May 2010 in incidents connected to the attempts.

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The commission has also been mandated to probe the circumstances under which, and by whom, several police stations and other state property (including police or military vehicles) were attacked and damaged or destroyed by firebombs, gunfire or other means during or around the period of the state of emergency declared in May 2010.

Civil-society advocate Carol Narcisse also endorsed the commission's invitation, saying that she deferred to the wisdom of the commissioners.

"The integrity of the people who are sitting is such that they would not extend something for their gain and not for any good reason, because they have the full view of all that they have heard so far in a way that we don't," said Narcisse.

"So I think I would err on the side of their broader and more in-depth view of the information that they have in front of them," Narcisse added.

Chairman of Jamaicans for Justice, Horace Levy, is also on board.

"I think it's a good thing. Why would it not be?" he said.

"How they will use the recommendations is another matter, but surely, many may have recommendations on a range of issues, so I can't see anything wrong with asking Jamaican citizens for their views."

Section 2 of the Commissions of Enquiry Act empowers the governor general to set up a commission "to enquire into the conduct or management of any department of the public service, or of any public or local institution, or the conduct of any public or local officers of this island, or of any parish, or district thereof, or into any matter in which an enquiry would, in the opinion of the governor general, be for the public welfare."

Section 7 requires the commissioners "to make a full, faithful and impartial enquiry into the matter specified ... , and to conduct such enquiry in accordance with the directions (if any) in the commission; and, in due course, to report to the governor general, in writing, the result of such enquiry; and also, when required, to furnish to the governor general a full statement of the proceedings of such commission and of the reasons leading to the conclusions arrived at or reported."

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com