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'Weh wi a go get?' - Tivoli residents say sums paid out to enquiry lawyers unfair

Published:Tuesday | July 12, 2016 | 12:00 AMJason Cross

Residents of Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston have expressed dissatisfaction at the news that $150 million was paid out to lawyers who participated in the recently concluded West Kingston Commission of Enquiry.

Among the attorneys who received portions of the $150 million in fees were those representing government entities such as the Jamaica Defence Force, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Office of the Public Defender.

Many residents of the community complained that, since the 2010 police-military operation, they have received no form of compensation and generally described the sums paid out to the lawyers as "unfair".

"So many money issue out, I don't believe nuh money else lef' fi di people dem weh get damaged in West Kingston," Karen Parkins told The Gleaner.

"My house mash up. My door, everything mash up, and di lawyers dem get suh much money. Weh wi a go get now?" asked one elderly resident, Cecile Christie.

Dominique Johnson also said it was unfair and wanted to know the amount that would be paid out to her and other persons who suffered during the operation.

Nicola Bryce Wilson argued that the lawyers simply didn't deserve it.

"Mi nuh feel good enuh, because when mi did get shot inna di incursion, mi neva get nuh help," Bryce Wilson said. "UC (University Hospital of the West Indies) charged mi $17,000 fi remove the bullet out of mi breast. A foreign mi affi sen go to loved ones and dem sen di money fi remove the bullet out a mi breast. Dem (the lawyers) nuh deserve it. A di people dem inna [Tivoli] Garden deserve it."

However, Dennis Meadows, co-convenor of Citizens' Action for Principles and Integrity, said he strongly believed that the overall cost of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry (J$450 million) was well worth it.

He said the cost of the high-priced lawyers was a necessary sacrifice.

"I believe that the pursuit of justice or the attainment cannot be measured in dollars and cents. I believe that the exercise was necessary," Meadows told The Gleaner.

He also said that the findings in the official report issued last month were satisfactory, though he did not agree with some of them.

"I believe the main report was good (for) the people of Tivoli who, in my view, suffered immensely. This serves almost as a catharsis," he said.

He further declared that the arguments about money were redundant.

- Mikolia Douglas contributed to this story