Thursday 4 June, 2020

INDECOM raises issue about 'non-exemption' from curfew restrictions

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) has expressed concern about what it has described as its exclusion from the list of exempted organisations by the Government under the new national curfew orders.

The commission, in a release, said it 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’s response team will negatively impact the oversight of law enforcement requirements. Last month, of the five fatal and 11 non-fatal shooting incidents (that were) responded to by INDECOM, 70 per cent would have resulted in the commission being unable to attend the scenes, as they (its personnel) would have breached the curfew hours,” INDECOM stated in the release.

“INDECOM’s inability to promptly respond and process an incident scene would hamper an independent investigation and weaken its adequacy and effectiveness."

The agency said it has written to the Minister of National Security, seeking approval by Cabinet as an exempted service or activity under the curfew order. But so far, “we have not had a favourable response”, the agency added.

INDECOM said: “Citizen reassurance across all sectors is critical, especially during times of a global crisis such as the ongoing coronavirus (is COVID-19)."

It cited curfew impositions as being necessary and fully appreciated, but said INDECOM’s remit also provides community reassurance “in this difficult time where the risk of citizens’ rights are further limited”.

As an illustration of its effectiveness in securing public confidence, INDECOM cited a discharging of firearm incident on March 27, 2020 in Old Harbour, St Catherine. It said citizens blocked a roadway in protest against the perceived actions of police officers, and vented their anger towards them.

The agency said the presence of INDECOM Investigators served to allay the fears of the protesters, and reassured them of an independent and thorough investigation, resulting in them becoming co-operative and compliant with the instructions of INDECOM and the police.

In the release, INDECOM urged members of the public 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.”

INDECOM also urged citizens to make initial reports of perceived security forces violations via the INDECOM Control Room, rather than attending an office to make complaints or give information at present.

The INDECOM Control Room can be contacted via telephone (876)968-8875 or (876)968-1932; Whatsapp message (876)553- 5555, or through its website: www.indecom.gov.jm

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