Human Rights Group Defends INDECOM

The human rights group, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) has defended the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) after Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that police officers were fearful of doing their work because of the organisation.

“I believe that sometimes INDECOM goes too far, and places our police officers on the retreat. That means that a balance has to be struck. We need our policemen to be motivated. We need our policemen to feel that they are protected in fighting crime,” Holness told supporters of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) as the party held its annual conference on Sunday. INDECOM, which investigates charges of breaches of civilians’ rights by the security forces and Holness said that its assignment resulted from the tough and extreme measures introduced to tackle violent crimes in the 1990s.

He said those measures failed to reduce violent crimes, and ended up damaging Jamaica’s human rights reputation, internationally, JFJ director Rodje Malcolm described Holness claim as baseless, “given that in 2017 the police have already killed more persons than in 2016 and 2015.

“The police clearly are still resorting to lethal force and have actually increased their use of lethal force in 2017, so it suggests that the impact of INDECOM may be more anecdotal and less borne out in the data in relation to police morale,” he said on a radio programme here. But he said “if there are specific issues with INDECOM, then those specific and particular issues should be raised and should be addressed, because INDECOM, just like any other public body, must be held accountable.”

In his address, Holness said that his administration will be implementing new legislation that will inflict harsher penalties on perpetrators of crime. “We hear the desperate cries for tough and extreme measures to deal with the criminals. Jamaica cannot go back to that, there are greater costs to Jamaica. We have to fight crime with law, with intelligence, with citizens cooperation by providing information and not giving in to criminals in your community,” the Prime Minister said.