Parliament to get Tivoli report by month-end

Witter made the disclosure to the Observer on Friday. However, he declined to reveal the actual submission date or speak to details of the report. 

“I will be submitting that information in an interim report to the Parliament in a couple of weeks. Those issues that you have raised will be addressed in the report,” said Witter, responding to questions posed by the Observer.

“I can’t embarrass myself or have you pre-empt the Parliament in that way. When the thing (report) is laid on the table you will get copies of it, it will be on the websites,” he continued, adding that the report will include findings on the death of businessman Keith Clarke, who was killed by members of the security forces when they raided his Kirkland Heights home in St Andrew, in search of Coke.

In the meantime, head of police operations, Assistant Superintendent Glenmuir Hinds, said that he is also awaiting the findings of the Public Defender’s report.

“I cannot respond as to whether there were any breaches (by the security forces) that will come out in the report,” said Hinds. “But this was not a raid, it was a security operation to stabilise a part of Jamaica that was in control by hoodlums, who had barricaded the place, re-enforced it with explosives, and who had taken up strategic positions with snipers. I don’t think many people understand that,” he said, noting however that he was not making a connection between the strategies employed by the security forces and the collateral damage in the affected communities.

The report — which on numerous occasions has been delayed due to challenges collecting and processing evidence from residents — is expected to determine the establishment of a commission of enquiry into the bloody incursion.

More than 1,000 complaints about alleged civil rights breaches by the security forces were filed to the Public Defender, all of which had to be processed before being added to the final report, Witter explained.

The long wait for the report however, has left many residents as well as human rights groups livid, especially in light of allegations that some residents were killed by the security forces in cold blood.

Dr Carolyn Gomes, executive director of human rights lobbyists Jamaicans For Justice, on Friday welcomed news that the Public Defender’s report had finally been completed, saying that it allowed for a detailed commission of enquiries to be held into the security forces’ operation.

“It is really important that it (report) comes out, I am looking forward to it,” said Gomes.

“The people; those in Tivoli, those in Denham Town, the Keith Clarke family, they need closure. And the society needs to know whether our security forces acted reasonably, whether all the persons died in the hands of violence, or whether some of them were killed for no good reason. We need that report to begin the process of healing,” she said.

Though it was former Prime Minister Bruce Golding who last year said the report would determine whether or not a commission of enquiry would be launched into the incident, Dr Gomes said the current Portia Simpson Miller-led Government needs to follow through.

“The only way for us to understand exactly what happened in Tivoli, and the wider circumstances surrounding it is that commission of enquiry,” she said. “Otherwise, there will be no way of investigating the damage to homes, operational activities, or the persons who were injured,” said Dr Gomes.

“The only way to bring it all together to find out the truth is through that commission of enquiry. And it has to be a strong commission of enquiry led by people of great strength and integrity, and it has to be carefully thought through,” she noted.

More than 70 persons were shot and killed when the security forces stormed the West Kingston constituency in search of Coke, who was wanted for extradition to the United States.

Coke, who has since been captured and extradited, has confessed to charges of drug and gun-running in US courts. He is now awaiting sentencing, expected this Friday.

 

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