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Campaign for witnesses to come forward
published: Friday | January 25, 2008

The police High Command has commenced a vigorous advertising campaign to find witnesses to assist in several cases before the courts.

The advertisements follow a commitment by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to review all cases under the Evidence Act, which permits witnesses to give statements without being present in court to give evidence. Some 100 criminal cases are to be subjected to the review.

The review was triggered by an admission by Detective Constable Carey Lyn-Sue two Tuesdays ago that he falsified witness statements that were tendered as evidence in a murder case against a 22-year-old St. James man.

In two advertisements in The Gleaner yesterday, the JCF named five material witnesses, as well as their last known addresses, who the police say were able to assist in three cases before the Home Circuit Court.

Review of Evidence Act

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has welcomed the review of the Evidence Act. In a letter to the attorney general signed by Public Defender Earl Witter on Wednesday, the office noted:

"The amendment was necessary and well intentioned. But its impact on the constitutional fair trial provisions ... was quite momentous. Constable Lyn-[Sue's] admission is evidence of what counsel at the criminal Bar have long known or suspected: That the provisions have been abused by unscrupulous 'investigators', whereby injustice has or may have been, is being or could possibly be caused."

He said the cases to be reviewed under the act may be more than 100 as they span as far back as 10 years. In some relevant cases, convictions have been upheld on appeal, the public defender said, "thus, a fairly massive undertaking is projected."

He is suggesting that the police should also involve the Jamaican Bar Association and the Advocates Association in the review process.

Meanwhile, the Police High Command is distancing itself from the scornful and condemning statements made by some police personnel about the actions of Detective Corporal Lyn-Sue. In The Gleaner's lead story on Monday, cops who asked to not be named called Lyn-Sue a traitor for breaking a secret code of silence.

"The JCF does not condone a code of silence where the minority may be willing to cover up at all costs the misdeeds of their colleagues, even if the liberty of a member of the public is jeopardised," the JCF said in a statement to The Gleaner.

Integrity of the law

"The only legitimate bond that we have is one that upholds the integrity of the law and protects the rights of every citizen. We encourage law-abiding citizens to work with the JCF and share information about crime. It would therefore be hypocritical to ask the JCF to ask people to come forward whilst police officers hide behind a bond of secrecy."

The JCF says while it condemns the detective constable's misdeed, it is encouraging officers who have committed similar offences to admit their wrongdoing in order to protect the community and the reputation of the force.

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