Wednesday 25 November, 2020

INDECOM finds solace with one aspect of Privy Council ruling

Terrence Williams

Terrence Williams

The Independent Commission of Investigation (INDECOM) is finding solace in one aspect of a ruling by the UK-based Privy Council which upheld a Jamaican court ruling that the commission does not have the power to arrest, charge or prosecute police personnel.

INDECOM has identified as a win for the agency the Privy Council ruling that the commission has the power to prosecute officers who fail to comply with requests during an investigation.

“The commission notes that this is the first time in about four decades that the Privy Council has reversed a decision of the Jamaican Court of Appeal that had quashed a conviction,” a statement by INDECOM said.

“The commission is pleased for this particular ruling, as if the decision of the Court of Appeal was affirmed, it would threaten the independence of INDECOM’s investigation. INDECOM encourages police officers to appreciate INDECOM’s investigative authority and to be cooperative and courteous,” the statement said.

It stated that INDECOM’s commissioner, Terrence Williams, noted that “as the points were decided only partly in favour of the commission’s arguments, the Commission is hopeful that there will be continuation of the efforts to reform the INDECOM Act, as agreed five years ago by the Joint Select Committee of Parliament”.

INDECOM had appealed to the Privy Council after Jamaica’s Court of Appeal had quashed the conviction against Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Albert Diah, who was found guilty of obstructing the commission and failing to comply with a lawful requirement.

He was arrested and prosecuted in 2013 by INDECOM officers, who were investigating the fatal shooting of a St Catherine woman, but had met resistance from Diah, who instructed the officers in his command not to hand over their weapons to INDECOM.

Diah, with the aid of the Police Federation, appealed the $400,000 fine to the Court of Appeal citing that INDECOM did not have the power of arrest and prosecution.

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