Enquiry lawyers lack conscience
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Do my ears deceive me? On day four in the west Kingston commission of enquiry, a lawyer made a statement that sent chills through my body. Following an address by the chairman of the enquiry about the relevance of a particular line of questioning, regarding the abuse of civilians, the lawyer stated that the questions were to ascertain whether protest action of the residents, prior to the operation in west Kingston, contributed to the treatment the residents received.
Does this mean that if I protest in public, I can be beaten in retaliation by the police or military? Is protesting no longer a constitutional right?
I find it unconscionable that the lawyers in the enquiry are trying to brush off the clear violation of residents' rights. In one incident in which a victim recounted his ordeal, the lawyer on behalf of the Jamaica Defence Force stated, "No soldier did that to you."
What gives them the right to say such things? Is this enquiry not going by facts?
ROOM FOR INTIMIDATION
A recurring theme in this enquiry is the supposed variations in witness and victim statements. You mean the same statements that were taken by the entities (Jamaica Constabulary Force and Jamaica Defence Force) accused of the violations? Clearly, there was room for intimidation and coercion.
If there are variations in reports, it is in the discharge papers from custody and the medical reports at the hospital. In one case, the custody discharge papers stated that the detainee had no injuries, while the medical report had multiple injuries upon comparison.