Jamaica: Perpetrators of Tivoli killings must be brought to justice

Delays in the investigation into the killing of 73 people in May 2010 during an operation by security forces in West Kingston could be allowing those responsible to get away with murder, said Amnesty International today.

According to information received by Amnesty, it is alleged that Jamaican security forces are responsible for unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances that took place during the operation in Tivoli Gardens, Kingston, during a state of emergency in May 2010. The law enforcement operation was aimed at arresting suspected gang leader Christopher Coke.

In a letter today to the speaker of Jamaica’s House of Representatives Michael Peart, Amnesty questioned delays in the publication of a report into the killings which the Public Defender’s Office was due to submit to parliament on 15 January, after missing previous deadlines.

Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International said:

“It is outrageous that nearly three years since the Tivoli Gardens killings the Jamaican authorities are far from being able to answer the many questions that remain.

“By failing to ensure that those responsible for the killings, disappearances and arbitrary arrests that took place in Tivoli in 2010, the Jamaican authorities are simply sending the message that human rights abuses are permitted and won’t be punished.”

When questioned in July last year about delays in the completion of the report, the Minister of National Security blamed understaffing.

Javier Zúñiga said:

“If the problem is a lack of resources available to the Office of the Public Defender, the authorities should have addressed this issue long ago.”

Supporting a call from Jamaican civil society organisations, Amnesty International has also urged the Jamaican authorities to ensure a parliamentary hearing is held to investigate the delays in the investigations.

The Office of Public Defender is mandated by the Jamaican parliament to protect and enforce the rights of citizens.

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