April 2, 2020 – The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is concerned with its exclusion from the list of exempted organizations, by the Government of Jamaica, under the new curfew orders.
The Commission is empowered under the INDECOM Act to provide independent oversight to the activities of the Security Forces, and has a 24 hour scene response function to attend fatal and non-fatal shooting incidents. The non-inclusion of INDECOM Response Team will negatively impact the oversight of law enforcement requirements.
Last month, of the 5 fatal and 11 non-fatal shooting incidents responded to by INDECOM, 70% would have resulted in the Commission being unable to attend the scenes as they would have breached the curfew hours. INDECOM’s inability to promptly respond and process an incident scene, would hamper an independent investigation and weaken its adequacy and effectiveness.
The Commission has written to the Minister with responsibility for national security, seeking approval by Cabinet, as an exempted service or activity under the Order. So far, we have not had a favourable response.
Citizen reassurance across all sectors is critical, especially during times of a global crisis such as this COVID-19 virus. Curfew impositions are necessary and fully understood, but INDECOM’s remit also provides community reassurance in this difficult time where the risk of citizens’ rights are further limited.
An illustration of INDECOM’s effectiveness in securing public confidence is shown in a discharge of firearm incident, on March 27, in Old Harbour. Citizens, blocked the roadway, protested against the police officers and vented their anger towards them. The presence of INDECOM Investigators allayed their fears and reassured them of an independent and thorough investigation, thus they became cooperative and compiled with the instructions of INDECOM and the police.
Importantly members of the public are reminded to comply with the curfew orders by remaining indoors, as each of us has an important role to play in keeping ourselves safe during this state of public health emergency. Additionally INDECOM encourages citizens to make their initial reports via the INDECOM Control Room, rather than attend an office, to make complaints or give information, at this time. The INDECOM Control Room can be contacted via telephone (876)968-8875 or (876)968-1932; Whatsapp message (876)553-5555 or through our website www.indecom.gov.jm