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Shut up, Bruce! Atkinson slams former PM for lashing out against US gov't

Published:Friday | July 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Attorney General Patrick Atkinson

Edmond Campbell and Sheldon Williams, Staff Reporters

ATTORNEY GENERAL Patrick Atkinson has fired the latest salvo in the ongoing debate over Owen Ellington's surprise retirement as police commissioner, arguing that former Prime Minister Bruce Golding should tell the country why he himself resigned.

"Mr Golding would be better off making a public statement as to why he resigned, which he never did and nobody asked him for it," Atkinson charged yesterday.

On Wednesday, Golding slammed the United States (US) government while speaking on Power 106 FM radio talk show, 'Cliff Hughes On-line', declaring the US lacked the moral authority to cite human-rights abuses as reasons to withdraw support to the Jamaican security forces.

Golding is also coming under fire from convener of the Tivoli Committee, Lloyd D'Aguilar, who is arguing the former head of government is in no position to criticise the US about human-rights violations because his hands are just as dirty and he is just as culpable for his involvement in the May 2010 Tivoli Gardens incursion.

KEEP QUIET WITHOUT FACTS

In an interview yesterday, Atkinson said the former prime minister should remain silent if he does not have the facts about US drone attacks.

Golding had blasted the US administration for dispatching drones to "go and extrajudicially kill persons who it alleges to be terrorists and, in the process, kill civilians, including children".

Atkinson, however, charged that: "He (Golding) has no idea what information the United States based their operation on in sending drones".

Pointing to the so-called 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Atkinson argued that about 30 Jamaicans "got blown up in a building with some 3,000-odd US citizens as well".

Continuing, the attorney general said: "I wouldn't imagine that the United States government would just get up and choose a village and send a drone; it has to be driven by some information."

At the same time, the attorney general is urging the media to respect the right to privacy of the former commissioner.

"Like any other employee in this country, not because he is a public figure and he chose to serve, I don't think it is right that there should be speculation, as none of it is based on any evidence as to reasons he may have given," Atkinson said of Ellington.

He said only the outgoing commissioner knows the "full story" and the country should allow information to surface in due course.

However, National Security Minister Peter Bunting told his parliamentary colleagues on Tuesday that some Jamaican law-enforcement units had lost funding from international partners because of allegations of human-rights abuse by members of the security forces.

Bunting, who previously sought to explain Ellington's sudden departure, has said the outgoing commissioner wished to separate himself from the force ahead of the pending commission of enquiry into the 2010 operation in Tivoli Gardens, west Kingston, which left more than 70 persons dead. He also noted, his departure would prevent the perception of interference in the Independent Commission of Investigation's probe into an alleged police death squad in Clarendon.

US PRESSURE

Ellington's spokesman, Howard Mitchell, subsequently claimed that though he was not pushed out of office, pressure from the US influenced the police commissioner's decision to leave.

D'Aguilar, who also took aim at Golding yesterday, charged it was under the former prime minister's command as minister of defence that atrocities were carried out in Tivoli Gardens, leaving many residents dead and others permanently injured.

"We need to focus on the command responsibility of former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, the ultimate civilian commander. Speaking of which, I see him here on the front page of The Gleaner absolving himself from responsibility for what happened in 2010 and absolving the police commissioner for what happened in 2010," D'Aguilar noted.

He claimed that evidence continues to increase in support of the case against the former prime minister that he did nothing to prevent the overt disregard for the right to life by members of the security forces in May 2010.