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Opposition senator calls for Tivoli enquiry

Published:Friday | January 18, 2013 | 4:43 PM

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

Opposition Senator Tom Tavares Finson has called for a full public judicial enquiry into the circumstances that led to the deaths of more than 70 people in West Kingston during a military-led operation into Tivoli Gardens in May 2010.

In the Senate today, Tavares Finson, who had served as counsel for Christopher Coke, the fugitive on whom the security forces were seeking to execute an arrest warrant, said that the Tivoli operation represents just as much as a blot on Jamaica’s history as the 1976 State of Emergency.

"The Tivoli Gardens killings have not gone unnoticed internationally and we might like to believe that it’s our dirty secret but that is not the case, and sooner or later we will be called to give an account to the international community even if we as a society try to forget," Tavares Finson said.

Tavares Finson also noted that the Public Defender, Earl Witter, has failed to meet his many promises a report on the Tivoli operations.

"I said all along that his office was technically incapable of inquiring into and reporting competently into this incident; the less said of this, the better," Tavares Finson said.

In the meantime, Finson said the imposition of the State Of Emergency in 1976 is a stain on Jamaica.

The State of Emergency was imposed by then Prime Minister Michael Manley.

In 1978, a Commission of Enquiry on matters concerning the State of Emergency, presided over by Chief Justice Kenneth Smith, uncovered that the heads of both intelligence agencies of government – the Special Branch of the Police Force and the Military Intelligence Unit of the Jamaica Defence Force – never advised Manley of any potential threat to national security.

Tavares Finson noted that another revelation coming out of that enquiry was that the Minister of National Security Keble Munn corruptly executed his function by issuing blank detention orders for members of the Security forces to fill in names of persons detained "willy-nilly".

The Tivoli incident took place while the Jamaica Labour Party was in power while the 1976 state of emergency was imposed by a People’s National Party (PNP) Administration.

Tavares Finson also said the Government should look into the viability of holding an enquiry into the Coral Gardens incident where the State allegedly abused the rights of Rastafarians in western Jamaica.

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