Independent Body To Investigate Human Rights Abuses


A new National (Independent) Investigative Authority is to be established to address abuses of human rights and other injustices meted out to Jamaicans at the hands of the security forces.
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, who made the announcement during his contribution to the 2004/05 Budget Debate in Gordon House today, explained that the body would operate independently of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
The Prime Minister said that the new body, to be comprised of personnel with specialised investigative skills, would also deal with the “complex nature” of cross-border felonies including corruption, extortion, extradition and financial crimes.
“Such a national investigative body must be equipped with an appropriately qualified cadre of investigators with skills that include crime scene investigations and the collecting and analysing of forensic evidence,” he informed.
Mr. Patterson said that the formation of the body would entail pooling and harnessing the resources that existed in entities outside of the security forces, to boost professional competence and to effect economies of scale and sharing of information. The Prime Minister said, “to guarantee public confidence, the Authority must be structured to provide public accountability reports to satisfy the imperative of transparency”.
The body, he informed further, would also be autonomous and its mandate would include the independent investigation of alleged indiscretions of members of the security forces, pointing out that, “the public will never be satisfied that the police can investigate itself rigorously and impartially”.
Stating that the institution of the investigative unity was designed to improve access to justice, the Prime Minister also argued that, “all aspects of our justice system must enjoy the confidence of the entire national family. Justice must be the same for those who live in upscale (areas) and depressed communities. It must remain devoid of political colour or considerations of privilege. Despite the increase in the volume of criminal and civil cases, the dispensation of justice must be timely”.
He also conceded that the justice system needed to be reformed and reviewed. “The universal cry ‘we want justice’ may have different meanings for those who demand it, but no government can be insensitive or reluctant in ensuring the need for constant review and reform in providing it,” the Prime Minister stated.

JIS Social