Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Halt transfer of senior cop slammed in Tivoli enquiry - JFJ, public defender

Published:Wednesday | August 2, 2017 | 8:00 AMJovan Johnson
Harrison Henry

The reassignment of 22 senior officers of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) takes effect today, but Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), the country's most vocal human-rights lobby group, as well as the public defender, is demanding that the Government stop Donovan Graham's transfer to western Jamaica over his role in the 2010 West Kingston operation.

"It should be put on hold, especially in light of the concerns and especially in light of the fact that he inevitably will be in charge of a special zone," said John Clarke, JFJ's legal officer.

Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry, who last month said she was alarmed at the news, last night said her office's concerns remain.

"We are saying that in light of the findings and the recommendations of the [West Kingston Commission of Enquiry], he ought never to have been in charge of the Manchester area, and this transfer ought to stop."

Up to yesterday, Assistant Commissioner of Police Graham was the head of Police Area Three, which comprises Clarendon, Manchester and St Elizabeth.

Today, he is taking up duties as head of Area One, covering St James, Hanover,

St James and Trelawny - parishes that have contributed heavily to a 20 per cent increase in murders so far this year, compared with the similar period last year.

But Graham's leadership is facing questions, given the recommendation a year ago by the tribunal that he and other high ranking army and police officers be barred from leading or participating in future internal security operations.

"Where the accusations of extrajudicial killings on the part of the security forces were found by this commission to be credible, and where persons were identified as being in dereliction of duty or were administratively or operationally incompetent, we recommend that these persons should never again be allowed to lead or otherwise participate in internal security operations," the commission said.

... Quallo reviewing report on JCF's role in 2010 West Kingston operation

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) last week disclosed that on June 18, it completed an administrative review of the force's role in the 2010 West Kingston operation. The report, it said, is with Commissioner George Quallo, who is sharing it with internal bodies.

However, John Clarke, legal officer, Jamaicans for Justice, said until that report has been made public, Assistant Commissioner of Police Donovan Graham should not be put in charge of any police systems, and especially with the zones of special operations soon to be declared, and St James likely to be one of the first.

"The danger is this: Many Jamaicans are aware of cases where persons' complaints, real or perceived, are not being addressed by the bigger heads in the JCF," he said. "[Transfers] like these generally give support to a public perception that it doesn't make sense to complain against police excess or senior officers, because nothing will be done."

Meanwhile, Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry said, "No one has been held accountable for the deaths of several young men" in west Kingston, and though Graham has not been linked to any, his transfer runs counter to the security forces being held accountable for their actions.

Sixty-nine people, including a soldier, were killed in the 2010 operation to arrest the now-convicted gangster Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com