Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Cash-strapped JFJ says defending victims of police abuse now a challenge

Published:Wednesday | March 23, 2016 | 3:34 AMSherine Williams, Gleaner Writer
JFJ chairman Horace Levy says the agency hasn't been receiving enough funding to employ a full-time lawyer who can focus solely on seeking justice for victims of police abuse as is its custom.

Human rights group Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) says it is currently not in a position to take on cases of citizens who have been abused by the police as it is strapped for cash.

JFJ chairman Horace Levy says the agency hasn't been receiving enough funding to employ a full-time lawyer who can focus solely on seeking justice for victims of police abuse as is its custom.

 

JFJ Chairman Horace Levy

Levy says the current financial situation of the JFJ is due partly to debts that the agency has been trying to honour and the loss of the agency's charitable status which was revoked by the government in 2014.

He says even though the JFJ managed to regain its charitable status in 2015, it lost a lot of money because of taxes it incurred during the period that the status was lost.

 

JFJ Chairman Horace Levy

Levy says while the JFJ has scaled down operations, it is currently focused on educating certain groups about human rights. 

 

JFJ Chairman Horace Levy

In 2014, the government removed the lobby group's charitable status on the grounds that the JFJ has advocacy for legislative change as one of its objectives.

The loss of the status left the group with an overhang of statutory and back taxes totalling some $11 million.

Another consequence of the financial fallout is that the legal department was closed down, resulting in a backlog of cases and the organisation's inability to take on walk-in cases as it previously did.