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Public defender seeks extension of limitation period for Tivoli residents

Published:Tuesday | May 31, 2016 | 5:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Arlene Harrison Henry, Jamaica's public defender.

SHOULD JUSTICE Minister Delroy Chuck consider extending the limitation period to file civil cases for persons affected by the Tivoli incursion? Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry believes there could be more than the approximately 70 claims her office filed in court.

Speaking at the first human rights graduation ceremony and dinner held at the Four Seasons Hotel in St Andrew, Henry announced that her office has filed suit against the Government on behalf of the estates of about 30 persons who died and 40 others who were either injured or detained during the police/military operations.

The public defender also reiterated a recommendation she has made previously to extend the current six-year limitation period to allow persons in west Kingston, who were impacted by the May, 2010 operations, to seek redress.

"You will recall that Mr (Earl) Witter (former public defender), in his interim report, stated that 44 persons were extrajudicially killed. However, when we went through what he had in the office, we came to a lesser number. The fact is also that many persons did not come forward, so we filed as best as we could," she told The Gleaner.

 

APPEAL TO COMMISSIONERS

 

"As we anxiously await the report from the Commission of Enquiry, which we expect anytime soon, we want to refer to one of the Office of Public Defender's recommendations, which is for an extension of time in relation to the statutory period for filing claims. We believe that the recommendation will find favour with the Commission of Enquiry," she declared.

This appeal has come amid concerns that residents in the west Kingston community were running out of time to seek legal redress for injuries and damage done to their homes and other personal belongings during the operation.

The public defender lauded the efforts of the administrator general of Jamaica, who, she said, worked quietly and steadily in getting letters of administration in more than 30 cases in a short time. She said other claims are still being investigated.

Harrison Henry said despite resource constraints, her staff intend to do their best to deliver efficient and effective service to the people of Jamaica.

"Since January 2016 to today's date, we have witnessed a 25 per cent increase in complaints to our office, when compared to the same period last year. This indicates that we are indeed in need of additional resources to do our jobs effectively," Harrison Henry said.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com