Wed | Sep 20, 2017

No plans indicate for implementation of West Kingston Commission recommendations, Amnesty concerned

Published:Wednesday | February 22, 2017 | 2:57 PM

International human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, has raised concern that the Government has failed to indicate how it would implement the recommendations of the West Kingston Commission into the May 2010 police-military operation.

Amnesty raised the matter in its 2016-17 annual report which was published today. 

The Commission's 900-page report was tabled in Parliament last June by Justice Minister, Delroy Chuck.

The Government had promised to expedite the implementation of the recommendations made in the report.

Among the recommendations are that the Government should compensate victims and apologise to residents of West Kingston.

The three-member panel also recommended that a body be set up to develop policy guidelines for the use of mortars and other indirect fire weapons by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

It was revealed that a total of 37 mortars were fired into three open spaces in west Kingston during the operation.

They further recommended that certain personnel within JDF and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) be barred from leading or otherwise participating in future internal security operations as well as that both forces should undertake certain reforms.

So far, the Government has set up a compensation committee to hear claims from victims of the operation, which resulted in the deaths of 74 civilians and one member of the JDF.

Many residents had complained about damage to their property and businesses, among other excesses by the security force. 

Last September, the Government indicated that Prime Minister Andrew Holness would offer an apology in Parliament but no timeline was given on when it will be done.

At that time, it also stated that the Cabinet committee reviewing the West Kingston report was taking steps to come up with a system to implement the Commission's recommendations.

There has been no update from the Government about the work of the committee.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International notes that the constabulary force has accepted a number of the report’s recommendations such as committing to hold administrative reviews into the conduct of officers named in the report.

However, according to the human rights groups, the police have continued to refuse to accept any responsibility for human rights violations or extrajudicial killings during the Tivoli operation.

The Commission was set up in 2014 to, among other things, enquire into the actions of the security forces in the May 2010 joint police-military operation in West Kingston.

The operation was aimed at executing an arrest warrant for then fugitive Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.