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Prime Minister Patterson has responded to Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bruce Golding’s letter of October 9, 2005 requesting that Mr. Patterson informs him of directions that were given to the Chief of Staff regarding the operational use of the Jamaica Defence Force.
In his response, the Prime Minister said that his instruction was identical to that which has been issued by successive Prime Ministers since 1962. According to the Prime Minister’s letter, the instruction was conveyed as follows:
“In accordance with the powers conferred on me by Section 9 (2) of the Defence Law, Law 12 of 1962, I hereby give the following directions with respect to the operational use of the Jamaica Defence Force:
You are hereby required to deploy the Jamaica Defence Force as you see fit for the purpose of maintaining and securing public safety and public order”.
The Prime Minister, in his letter, said that no special instructions were issued by him or were necessary, in respect of operations in Western Kingston on October 4, 2005.
He reminded the Leader of the Opposition that in situations where troops are deployed under Sections 5 and 9 of the Defence Act, the JDF acts under the principle of police primacy. “This means that when troops are deployed within the state they are required to act in support of the police, but not as your letter implies, subject to ‘the supervision of the police’. During joint operations, the commander of the troops acts in cooperation with the senior police officer on the ground”, the letter stated.
The Prime Minister stated in his letter that the movement of troops by themselves within the area of a joint military operation was not unusual and does not confer on the military any powers which are solely vested by law in the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
The Jamaica Defence Force, while engaged in internal security, does so by virtue of Sections 5 and 9 of the Defence Act. In particular, for the JDF to be deployed in internal security operations, the provisions of Section 9(2) of the Act would have to be invoked.