Jovan Johnson , Gleaner Writer
University Lecturer, Dr Jermaine McCalpin, believes a truth commission would be appropriate to probe the issues emerging from the May 2010 Tivoli Gardens Operations.
Yesterday, the Office of the Prime Minister announced that the Government would be holding a Commission of Enquiry following a recommendation contained in an interim report by the Office of the Public Defender.
According to McCalpin, any judicial undertaking should focus on securing remedy for the victims.
“A truth commission or a longitudinal commission of enquiry would deal with things that are more systematic,” McCalpin said.
According to the university lecturer, the series of events and developments that led to 2010 operations must be considered.
“When you isolate 2010 from a kind of political practice and discourse that we’ve had over the years, then it becomes problematic and that’s my concern,” he said.
McCalpin who lectures at the University of the West Indies, Mona, has written on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and recently completed a study on 'The Prospects for a Truth Commission in Jamaica'.
He acknowledges Jamaica’s long history of commissions of enquiry beginning with the one in 1867 which probed the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion, saying historically they have failed to comprehensively address the issues being enquired into.
“The commission of enquiry serves its purpose best when it is very clear as to what its mandate is because most people expected the Commission of Enquiry [Manatt-Dudus] to have dealt with the incidence surrounding Tivoli,” he said.
Meanwhile, McCalpin believes the heavy media coverage of the 2011 Manatt-Dudus Commission of Enquiry has played a significant role in the shaping of public perception about commissions of enquiry.
He quoted statistics from a 2011 United Nations Development Programme study he led, indicating that 37 percent of the people polled believed the Manatt-Dudus Enquiry was a waste of time and money.
Nineteen percent of respondent cited the lack of criminal implications for participants and another 19 per cent believed it was primarily of entertainment value.
According to the study, only 9 percent believed the Enquiry was a good medium for transparency and accountability.
At least 76 civilians and a soldier were killed in May 2010 during the operations spear-headed by the Jamaica Defence Force and the Jamaica Constabulary Force during a State of Emergency.
The West Kingston operation was aimed at capturing then crime-lord Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
ABOUT THE SOUTH AFRICA TRC
*The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up in 1995 by the Government of National Unity to help deal with what happened under apartheid.
*The conflict during this period resulted in violence and human rights abuses from all sides.
*The TRC effected its mandate through three committees: the Amnesty; Reparation; and Rehabilitation and Human Rights Violations committees.