Wed | Nov 22, 2017

Intimidation - Mario Deane's mother says police unlawfully monitoring families

Published:Wednesday | October 25, 2017 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines
Mario Deane

The mother of Mario Deane, the 31-year-old construction worker who died as a result of serious head injuries received while in police custody, is asserting that her family has since been subjected to systematic intimidation tactics by the police.

Dean was severely beaten on August 3, 2014 at the Barnett Street Police Station in St James and succumbed to his injuries three days later at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in the same parish.

"An officer followed me from the fifth floor of the hospital to the third floor and then back to the fifth floor. And sometimes in court, they would follow me around, and at my home they would drive down, park a little and then drive off," stated Mercia Frazer, in her brief oral submission to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Monday.

Frazer, who attended the hearing along with representatives from Amnesty International and Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), was speaking on behalf of several families who were also alleged victims of unlawful killings by the police in Jamaica.

In so doing, she said that the police employed similar tactics as in the case of 27-year-old cookshop operator Robert 'Nakia' Jackson, who was shot and killed in his cookshop in Orange Villa, Kingston, in January 2014.

It is alleged that the police were chasing a Rastafarian man and encountered Jackson, who was also dreadlocked, and opened fire on him.

"For months the police would drive down there, park for a little while, and then drive away," argued Frazer.

Frazer further outlined to the IACHR panel that several cases were at a standstill for more than a decade as witnesses consistently fail to appear and lawyers turn up unprepared.

In her own case, she described how a police officer opted for vacation off the island just days before he was due to testify.

"This is frustrating to the family, 'cause for over 20 times since the case, we have been to the court without it getting anywhere," she lamented.

... Jamaican Gov't stays away, claims hearing inappropriately labelled

An Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hearing in Montevideo, Uruguay, themed 'Reports of Extrajudicial Executions and Excessive Use of Pre-trial Detention against Afro-descendants in Jamaica', was not attended by the Jamaican State on Monday.

The reason given by the Government was that it lacked diplomatic staff to attend the hearing in Uruguay, and that the title of the hearing, which focuses on Afro-descendants, was inappropriate given, that the Jamaican population is over 90 per cent Afro-descendants.

"We are disappointed by the State's withdrawal, and concerned that an important opportunity

to partner with local and international stakeholders to find lasting solutions to serious human-rights challenges was rejected," said JFJ Advocacy Manager Rodje Malcolm, adding that the hearing provided a critical platform to discuss what is oftentimes a hidden issue in Jamaica.

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com