Reports indicate that in late May, 2010, Jamaican security officers (police and army) initiated and operation in the West Kingston community of Tivoli Gardens with a view to arresting Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke who was eventually arrested and deported to the United States of America to face drug and arms-trafficking charges.
The operation, according to reports, was also designed to restore order in the community and during the two-day operation, at least 74 people, including a member of the Jamaica Defence Force, were killed and at least 54 people, including 28 members of the security forces, injured.
A two-month State of Emergency followed during which in excess of 4000 adults and children were taken into custody, most reportedly without being charged. A Caribbean360 report indicates that two of those individuals “remain unaccounted for”.
The report indicated that notwithstanding that some positive steps have been taken, determining who is responsible for the killings has yet to be done.
“Despite some positive steps, the authorities have failed to prosecute anyone for the killings during the operation to arrest Coke and the investigations initiated by the authorities around the killings have not established facts and responsibilities yet. According to information gathered by Amnesty International’s legal experts, investigations have suffered shortcomings in the initial phase which might have compromised the results.
“Shortcomings in the initial phase of the investigation include the lack of protection of crime scenes and the failure to remove from service the firearms used during the confrontations for ballistic testing.”
In addition, the organisation documented a general lack of resources for the investigations, particularly in the Legal Medicine Unit of the Ministry of National Security, where only two forensic pathologists work.
“The lack of effective investigations for human rights crimes is nothing new in Jamaica,” said Chiara Liguori. “The reality is that for far too long, inner-city communities have been trapped between drug gangs and a state that ignores them.”
Amnesty International has issued over 50 recommendations to the Jamaican authorities and is supporting local calls for a full commission of inquiry into the human rights violations committed during the state of emergency.
(Parts of this article were written with content submitted in a Caribbean360 release)