Sunday 20 September, 2020

Police Federation 'troubled' by motion to amend INDECOM Act

Sergeant Patrae Rowe

Sergeant Patrae Rowe

The Jamaica Police Federation says it is troubled by the motion to amend the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) Act tabled in Parliament by Justice Minister Delroy Chuck on Tuesday.

Chuck on Tuesday opened the debate on a motion calling for legislative changes to the INDECOM Act, which he said was to strengthen the investigative capabilities of the organisation. He said the Parliament is being asked to note and support a 2015 Joint Select Committee Report which had, among other measures, recommended that the INDECOM Act be amended to explicitly give INDECOM prosecutorial powers.

However, the federation, which represents rank and file members of the JCF, has charged that the government is "using INDECOM as a weapon" against its members and said Chuck's action opposes the recent ruling by the Privy Council. Specifically pointing to the minister's proposal to give INDECOM body corporate status, the federation argued that it was "a disingenuous way to open the door for the oversight body to get the prosecutorial powers it has always sought."

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck

Sergeant Patrae Rowe, the chairman of the Police Federation, added, "If this motion is supported, it is a clear demonstration that the government does not have the best interest of our members at heart and, by their actions, have eroded our trust in their ability to ensure that the rights of those who place their lives on the line daily are not abrogated."

In May, the United Kingdom-based Privy Council upheld the Jamaican Court of Appeal ruling that INDECOM has no power to arrest or prosecute police personnel. The law lords ruled that although the INDECOM Act does not expressly incorporate the commission, it creates the commission as a distinct entity with perpetual succession, which consequently places it in a position of analogues to that of a statutory corporation, as quasi-corporation.

The federation, in its release, said its members are outraged by the proposed amendments and noted that "it will not be business as usual for the membership" as they will fight for their rights.

The federation also took issue with the characterisation of police involved shootings as extrajudicial, saying that it represents Chuck's" lack of objectivity and undue influence on his parliamentary colleagues and the people of Jamaica."

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