Fri | Sep 21, 2018

Resolve needed as enquiry resumes

Published:Saturday | February 7, 2015 | 12:00 AM

In a few days, the commission of enquiry into the events of May 2010 is set to resume its hearings. In the past three weeks, there has been much public discussion regarding the reported salaries of commissioners and staff, the value of this enquiry, whether it is the right mechanism for getting to the truth, whether we can afford the proposed cost, and whether anything will come of the enquiry.

The Jamaica Civil Society Coalition continues to believe that the commission of enquiry is part of an essential process for uncovering and placing on the public record the truth of the events of May 2010 and matters related to it. Eighty or more people died, the largest loss of life in an operation by the Jamaican State since the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865.

As a nation, we must know the specific details of what happened and why, and must arrive at changes to be implemented to prevent such a horrific event from happening again.

The financial cost is an important issue and must be addressed. But this should be against the backdrop of the human cost and the value we as a society place on human life.

To be of greatest value to the nation, the commission of enquiry must ensure that truth is rigorously pursued, and that witnesses are appropriately prepared, protected and supported in giving their testimonies.

Many serious concerns have arisen from the way in which the residents who gave evidence in the December hearings of the enquiry were treated. Ultimately, in its report, the commission must not only give a clear account and analysis of the information it has gathered, it must address the context that gave rise to the events and must make strong recommendations for implementation.

It will be up to us, as citizens, to ensure that the State is held accountable and actually implements the recommendations of the enquiry in a timely and transparent manner.

Our vigilance is what will help to make a difference as there has been much failure by the State with respect to recommendations of past enquiries. We will have collectively failed if we allow low expectations to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.