KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday March 2, 2017 – As Amnesty International soundly chided Jamaica for unlawful killings and extrajudicial executions, the country’s Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) reported an alarming rise in the number of fatal police shootings in just the first two months of the year.
According to the data, 31 people were killed by law enforcers in that period, a 55 per cent increase over fatal incidents for the same period last year. Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force also shot and injured 11 other people.
“It is a worrying increase. We find it disturbing,” lamented Hamish Campbell, Assistant Commissioner of INDECOM, at a press conference.
He also pointed out that 15 of those killed by police were not in possession of any firearm. Only two cases involved illegal weapons, Campbell said.
He warned that the current trend could result in an unprecedented rate that would not bode well for Jamaica.
“The new Commissioner of Police and the Constabulary will be overseeing a fatality rate that has not been seen since 2013, where the figures reached over 200,” the INDECOM official cautioned.
Still, Campbell’s boss, INDECOM Commissioner Terrence Williams, said when compared to figures over a three-year period, police killings were on the decline.
“If you look at the three-years period 2011-2013, 687 persons were killed by police and military, but if you take the next three years period 2013-2016, 327 were killed in that period, so that is a 53 per cent reduction when you compare the two three-year periods,” he said.
However, in its State of the World’s Human Rights Report for 2017, Amnesty International not only highlighted that Jamaica continues to have one of the highest homicide rates in the Americas but said that police killings remain a concern.
Citing the Commission of Inquiry into the 2010 West Kingston incursion in which 69 people were killed, Amnesty charged that police continue to refuse to accept any responsibility for human rights violations or extrajudicial executions during the state of emergency that was declared during that period.
“By the end of the year, the government had still not officially indicated how it would implement the recommendations of the commissioners.
“While the number of killings by police has been significantly reduced in recent years, 111 people were killed by law enforcement officials in 2016, compared with 101 in 2015. Women whose relatives were killed by police, and their families, experienced pervasive police harassment and intimidation, and faced multiple barriers to accessing justice, truth and reparation,” Amnesty said.