Tivoli enquiry a 'watershed moment' - Mukulu
Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
ACTING Public Defender Matondo Mukulu said yesterday that his office expects and "has every reason to believe" that the Tivoli commission of enquiry, which starts today at the Jamaica Conference Centre, will represent a "watershed moment for a nation that was given its 9/11 moment in May 2010".
Based on its terms of reference, the commission have been charged with, among other things, enquiring into whether the rights of persons were violated in the Tivoli Gardens police-military operation.
An interim report by the Office of the Public Defender revealed that one soldier and 76 civilians were killed in the May 24-26, 2010 operations to capture then fugitive Christopher 'Dudus' Coke. At the time, Coke was wanted on an extradition warrant issued by the United States. He is now serving a 23-year sentence on racketeering charges.
The commission has been asked to conclude the enquiry within three months and make a full report and recommendations within two months of the end of the enquiry.
"We are confident that the commissioners will get the lawyers to be courteous to all witnesses as it produces an enquiry that all Jamaicans can be proud of," Mukulu said.
Retired chief justice and former attorney general of Barbados, Sir David Simmons, will chair the commission, which is completed by retired judge of the Jamaican Court of Appeal, Justice Hazel Harris, and director of the Institute of Criminal Justice and Security, University of the West Indies, Professor Anthony Harriott.
Among other things, Simmons and his team will be required to find out the circumstances under which, and by whom, embattlements and barriers were set up in Tivoli Gardens, and whether efforts were made, and by whom, to restrict ingress and egress of law-enforcement officers or to prevent the arrest of Coke. In addition, the commission is being asked to determine what arrangements were made, and what precautions were taken, to protect citizens in Tivoli Gardens and other affected areas from unnecessary injury or property damage during the law-enforcement action in the state of emergency.