Commish supports probe into alleged death squads
Edmond Campbell and Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writers
Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington said the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) would cooperate fully with the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) as the police oversight body conducts a major probe into allegations of a death squad within the force.
"They have the full backing of the JCF because this matter needs to be probed and the truth be unearthed and made public. It's in the interest of the police force; it's in the interest of the country and our international reputation," Ellington told The Gleaner yesterday.
The commissioner was responding to The Sunday Gleaner report on the weekend in which both a former and current member of the force alleged that special squads were assembled and ordered by senior police officers to kill alleged gangsters who were believed to be responsible for murders and other crimes in their communities.
According to both sources, after the killings, illegal guns - dubbed 'sweeties' in some circles - were then placed on the dead men's bodies in order to corroborate pre-written reports that they were killed in a shoot-out with the police.
get acquainted with law
Following the article, several civil society and human rights groups immediately called for an urgent probe into the matter. Among them, Amnesty Interna-tional, which has asked for a "thorough, effective, and timely" independent investigation into the matter.
Ellington said those calling for immediate action should first acquaint themselves with the law.
He explained that while INDECOM was conducting its investigation, he could not take any action based on Section 14, subsection 2, of the INDECOM law, which places the sole authority of investigating such matters in the hands of INDECOM's commissioner.
Said Ellington: "All of those attention seekers who believe they know everybody's job more than them, they just need to read the law."
In the meantime, the Police High Command is "strongly denying" claims of any such death squads, declaring in a statement: "The police are strongly denying any such suggestions of 'death squads' in the police force or the executive sanction[ing] of unlawful killings ... . Those who are making the allegations must prove it by relaying the information to the Independent Commission of Investigations or the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and be prepared to disclose the truth."