JIS News

A permanent unit of the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) will be set up in West Kingston as the Government moves to ensure that the rights of residents in the areas of the operation are protected.
Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz, made the disclosure at press briefing held today (May 27) at the Hilton Kingston hotel.
“The Government is committed and insistent that the rights of all citizens are respected and observed,” Minister Vaz said.
He said that arrangements are being made to ensure that all resources are available for the OPD staff to go into the communities to allow citizens to have easy access to report complaints and also receive necessary information.
Meanwhile, Minister Vaz announced that the Government would be launching independent investigations into all police/military operations carried out so far. “That will be the starting point and from those investigations, decisions will be taken in terms of how we proceed further,” he stated.
Minister Vaz said efforts are being made to identify the deceased and the specific circumstances under which they were killed.
The police today revealed that the bodies of some 73 civilians have been recovered from the West Kingston community of Tivoli Gardens following the recent battle between members of the nation’s security forces and gunmen.
Meanwhile, the Information Minister said the Government is making every effort to ascertain the identities of 15 badly decomposed bodies, which are being processed for burial.
“(The bodies) are being processed for burial by the Government Pathologist in conjunction with a private funeral home. All necessary measures are being taken to secure the identities, such as finger printing, photographs and other methods,” he said.
He said that up to yesterday (May 26) the number of persons detained by security forces numbered some 560 individuals. The Minister said transportation arrangements are being made for a number of these persons to return home.
He further stated that the Government of Jamaica, in the past, has received and continues to accept technical assistance from other countries, but based on the current situation and the operations taking place, this will not include armed personnel.

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