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West Kingston Report: No funds for dons - Commissioners recommend reducing power by cutting resources

Published:Friday | July 1, 2016 | 7:00 AM
Christopher 'Dudus' Coke's supporters demonstrate along Spanish Town Road against his extradition in 2010.

Stop giving Government and political resources to dons. That's among the raft of recommendations from the Sir David Simmons-led West Kingston commission of enquiry aimed at tackling the country's garrison phenomenon and reducing the power wielded by community dons.

"Political leaders must commit themselves to ending the allocation of the Government's and the political party's resources to dons in order to reduce the influence of these types of persons," the commissioners wrote in their report, which was made public last month.

"Resources should be targeted at garrison communities to facilitate the development of skills-training programmes and remedial schooling for at-risk youths within those communities," the report added.

Below is the full transcript of the commissioners' recommendations to tackle the garrison phenomenon:

The nature of the garrison phenomenon in Jamaica is rooted in the fact that over time, these constituencies have been allowed to become, in the popular vocabulary, "states within the State". They have their own credo and ethos. They give the appearance of living outside the mainstream of society. Promotion of a political party's interest is paramount. All else is secondary, including the rule of law. Political patronage and violence are two of the hallmarks of a garrison constituency. Criminals are highly organised and challenge the conventional societal order in order to establish and magnify their own. Fear of reprisals leads inexorably to adherence to a code of silence among law-abiding citizens who are forced, by necessity, to allow criminality to reign within the garrison constituency.

 

ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES STILL A CONCERN

 

Tivoli Gardens is an example of an advanced-stage garrison community. But it has been represented to us that six years after the events of May 24, 2010, the situation in that community has ameliorated. We were also told that the influence of dons is on the wane. However realistic those portents may be, we are still concerned about the concentration of illegal firearms and the emotions of pecuniary greed that exist among criminal organisations that have their headquarters in garrison communities.

The establishment of a police post within Tivoli Gardens after May 24, 2010, was and is a positive development. We recommend that this approach be replicated in those garrison communities where none presently exists. Such institutional strengthening is vital to the development of community policing and problem-oriented policing strategies and engendering respect for the rule of law. No democratic nation can have, within its own borders, communities that cannot be effectively and efficiently policed by the legitimate civil power. It is crucial that garrison communities be brought into mainstream existence and benefit from the services and protection provided by the State.

In addition, since "de-garrisonisation" ultimately requires consensus among political parties, we recommend:

a. A bipartisan approach leading to agreement towards the dismantling of garrison communities facilitated by an independent third party.

b. A road map for "de-garrisonisation" should be handed over to an independent body similarly structured in composition to the Electoral Commission to develop the details of the process.

We recommend the following for urgent consideration and action by the GOJ:

(I) Political leaders must commit themselves to ending the allocation of the Government and the political party's resources to dons in order to reduce the influence of these kinds of person. In this regard, state funds for use in a constituency (for example, Constituency Development Fund) should be administered by a representative board rather than at the direction of a member of parliament.

(II) Resources should be targeted at garrison communities to facilitate the development of skills-training programmes and remedial schooling for at-risk youths within those communities. We are well aware that there is a tendency to regard garrison communities as being specially deprived areas when, in fact, relative to other poor communities, they tend to be specially favoured in the allocation of state funds. The implementation of this recommendation should, therefore, have regard for and be consistent with the principle of fair allocation of state funds.