Friday 25 September, 2020

Privy Council decision Monday on INDECOM's power of arrest/prosecution

The highly-anticipated outcome of the appeal brought by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) to quash the island's Court of Appeal decision which said the commission had no power to arrest or prosecute police personnel, is to be handed down on Monday by the United Kingdom (UK) Privy Council.

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is expected to hand down the judgment through video link.

INDECOM had presented arguments in February of this year, urging the Privy Council to overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision which indicated that the commission does not have the power under section 20 of the INDECOM Act, to arrest, charge or prosecute any member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) or any other person.

The Appeal Court, in a 2-1 decision, said INDECOM officers as private citizens, could carry out arrests and prosecution under common-law without the permission of, or a ruling from the director of public prosecutions (DPP).

Additionally, the Court of Appeal said in its March 2018 decision that, based on Section 20 of the INDECOM Act, Commissioner of INDECOM, Terrence Williams, and his investigators, only possess the power to investigate and make recommendations.

But the Appeal Court judges indicated that the Act does not nullify the common-law right possessed by INDECOM's head and its investigators in their respective private capacities, to initiate private prosecution against any person for any criminal offence under Section 33 of the Act.

In relation to the appeal brought by INDECOM to the Privy Council, the Police Federation, Merrick Watson (then Chairman of the Police Officers’ Association), the Special Constabulary Force Association, and Delroy Davis, President of the United District Constables’ Association, were all listed as respondents in the matter.

Meanwhile, INDECOM has also sought to have the Privy Council reverse the Appeal Court's decision to quash the conviction of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Albert Diah, and overturn his $800,000 fine.

Diah was brought before the courts after he allegedly prevented members of a police team from handing over their weapons to INDECOM following the fatal shooting of a woman in Windsor Heights, Central Village in St Catherine in August, 2013.

Diah was convicted in 2014 and fined.

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