Authorities in Jamaica must bring to justice those responsible for the human rights violations during an operation to arrest a suspected gang leader in Tivoli Gardens last year, which resulted in the killing of 74 people, said Amnesty International today (23 May 2011).
To date, no one has been prosecuted for the killings during the operation.
The operation was carried out by Jamaica’s security forces to restore order in the community and to arrest suspected gang leader Christopher Coke. It began on 24 May 2010 and within two days, 74 people had been killed and at least 54 were injured, including 28 members of the security forces. During the two-month state of emergency that followed, more than 4,000 people, including children, were detained, most without charge. Two people reportedly taken into custody remain unaccounted for.
Amnesty International’s Jamaica Researcher Chiara Liguouri said: “An independent commission of enquiry must be established in order to ensure that all human rights violations committed in Tivoli last year do not go unpunished.”
Amnesty International has found that investigations initiated by the authorities in Jamaica suffered shortcomings in the initial phase, including the lack of protection of crime scenes and the failure to remove the firearms used during the confrontations from service for ballistic testing. These shortcomings might have compromised results.
Amnesty also documented a general lack of resources for the investigations, particularly in the Legal Medicine Unit of the Ministry of National Security where only two forensic pathologists work.
Chiara Liguori added: “The lack of effective investigations for human rights crimes is nothing new in Jamaica. The reality is that for far too long, inner-city communities have been trapped between drug gangs and a state that ignores them.”
Amnesty International has issued over 50 recommendations to the Jamaican authorities and is supporting local calls for a full commission of inquiry into the human rights violations committed during the state of emergency.