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Police Fed knocks US over sanctions against Adams, others

Published:Saturday | December 12, 2020 | 12:17 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

Jamaica Police Federation Chairman Corporal Rohan James has called on the United States to respect the sovereignty of other nations following news that it has slapped travel and other sanctions on six former members of the now-disbanded Crime Management Unit (CMU) for “gross violations in human rights in Jamaica”.

The unit, which was led by now-retired Senior Superintendent Reneto Adams, had been criticised as a trigger-happy police squad.

The US pointed to a May 2003 operation in Kraal, Clarendon, in which four persons were killed as the trigger for the action against the six – Adams, Devon Orlando Bernard, Patrick Anthony Coke, Shayne St Aubyn Lyons, Leford Gordon, and Roderick Anthony Collier – and members of their families.

Speaking on Radio Jamaica’s ‘Beyond the Headlines’ last evening, Adams described the US as “the great Satan”, adding that a “dying empire” and a “drowning man” would clutch at straws.

In the aftermath of the Kraal killings, Adams and five rank-and-file members of the police force were charged with murder. They were, however, acquitted in December 2005.

According to James, the US was showing scant regard for Jamaica’s judicial system, which had “adjudicated on these matters and a determination was made, where it was possible to make such determination and these members, including Mr Adams, were exonerated”.

Pointing out that a committee would be meeting to discuss the matter next week, the Police Federation boss said he was opposed to the move, especially since it affects current members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

“This is something that requires us to meet as a committee and take a consensus decision, going forward, in relation to what it is that the United States has done in regard to these members, knowing full well also, the impeccable integrity of our judicial system. How it is that they arrived at their decision and it is influenced by undue pressure or racism?” he said.

“In my private capacity, I believe it is a slap in the face for our judicial system. In my public capacity, I would be guarded to say that we believe that the United States needs to be respectful of our sovereignty and be mindful that we have one of the best judicial systems, although it is not fully funded to the level that is expected,” he said.

“I have read some judicial decisions made in the United States compared to Jamaica and even though we are a smaller jurisdiction, acquittal was never on the basis of colour class nor creed. In the United States, without any fear of contradiction, some of those convictions were arrived at based on the persons’ colour and racism,” James added.

The US anchored the sanctions to the Magnitsky Act, which authorises Washington to reprimand persons who had been suspected of committing human rights offences or acts of significant corruption.

The legislation allows the Trump administration to freeze the assets of persons and their families and prevent them from travelling to the US.

“Human-rights abusers will have no refuge within our jurisdictions,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted in relation to the report.

The report cited the fatal shooting of four persons by the crack team in the rural community of Kraal, Clarendon, as the trigger behind the action.

Forty-five-year-old Angella Richards, 38-year-old Ferris Lewena Thompson, Matthew James and a man known only as ‘Renegade’ were killed on Tuesday, May 7, 2003, according to police, during a shoot-out with members of the CMU. Two illegal firearms – a Taurus 9mm pistol with six cartridges and a Winchester rifle with 14 rounds – were seized.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com