We cry for justice - Women to present petition to PM demanding accountability for extrajudicial killings
With today being recognised as International Day against Police Brutality, a group of women from Jamaica, Brazil, and the United States, each having at least one relative killed by the police, are beseeching their respective governments to act now to ensure accountability and justice for extrajudicial killings of citizens.
The calls from the women coincide with concerns raised on Tuesday by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) about the increased number of fatal shootings by the security forces last year. Assistant commissioner of the oversight body Hamish Campbell revealed that 168 persons were fatally shot by the security forces last year, an increase of 51 per cent when compared to the same period in 2016.
Accompanying a delegation from Amnesty International, the group of women will today deliver to the Office of the Prime Minister 64,331 letters and signatures as part of a global petition - which, since December 2017, has gathered more than half a million actions worldwide - calling on the Jamaican Government to end impunity for unlawful killings by police.
Among the women calling for accountability in the police force is Shackelia Jackson, sister of Nakiea Jackson - the 29-year-old restaurant owner who was killed by the police in 2014.
"See my brother in your sons, Mr Prime Minister," Jackson pleaded.
"The police force is a reflection of the Government's values. In every organisation, there are guidelines and rules, and if we feel as though there is accountability, oversight, consequences to a misstep, then those will act as deterrents," she argued. "But if police officers are left to operate with impunity, then it becomes the order of the day... ."
SHOT SEVEN TIMES
Katrina Johnson - cousin of Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old African-American mother of four - agreed with Jackson.
Lyles was shot seven times by two white officers on June 18 last year after she called 911 to report a burglary at her Northeast Seattle apartment in Washington State.
"In Jamaica, there needs to be a bridge between police and communities so that the people in communities are safe and the police are accountable for what they are or are not doing within those communities.
"As for our government (USA), we face the same problem of accountability. The police are still killing people, and it's on video, but the officers aren't being charged with the killings. It has to stop. Families are being torn apart, and the government is just standing by,"Johnson lamented.
Speaking through a translator, an emotional Ana Paula Oliveira, mother of 19-year-old Jonathan de Oliveira Lima, of Manguinhos, an inner city in Rio de Janeiro's north zone, called for an immediate end to the bloodletting.
"The government needs to understand that although people are poor and live in inner cities, they also pay taxes, and, therefore, they have rights," said Oliveira.