KINGSTON — The government yesterday took another step towards establishing a commission of enquiry into the May 2010 security forces’ operation in Tivoli Gardens, releasing a draft terms of reference and inviting public comment over the next 10 days.
The draft was posted to the Ministry of Justice website yesterday afternoon, asking members of the public for their comments, in writing, no later than Friday, June 21.
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, whose initial objection to the enquiry on the grounds that it could become a “political circus” has been softened by his party’s more compromising approach, was guarded in his response yesterday, stating that the party would study the draft terms of reference before responding.
The operation in the Jamaica Labour Party downtown Kingston stronghold of Tivoli Gardens left 77 people, including a soldier, dead and hundreds injured, as well as severe damage to property.
The Government has said that the commission will be asked to make a “full and faithful” report and recommendations concerning the issues, and transmit them to the governor general.
The first draft of the proposed terms says the enquiry should probe:
(a) The reasons and circumstances surrounding the declaration of a State of Emergency in Western Kingston and related areas in May 2010;
(b) The conduct of operations by the security forces of Jamaica into Tivoli Gardens and related areas during the said State of Emergency in May 2010;
(c) What arrangements were made, and what precautions were taken to protect citizens in Tivoli Gardens and other affected areas from unnecessary injury or property damage during the law enforcement action in the State of Emergency;
(d) The circumstances under which civilians, police officers and soldiers of the Jamaica Defence Force were shot and killed or injured during May 2010 in connection with the security forces seeking to effect the arrest of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke on a provisional warrant for extradition proceedings;
(e) The circumstances under which state officials and law enforcement officers came under gunfire attacks during the month of May 2010 in incidents connected to the attempts by law enforcement officers of Jamaica to arrest Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke;
(f) The conduct of persons in affected communities, particularly Tivoli Gardens, including the circumstances where embattlements and barriers were unlawfully set up in Tivoli Gardens to restrict ingress and egress of law enforcement officers or to prevent the arrest of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Cooke;
(g) The circumstances under which and by whom several police stations and other state property, including police or military vehicles, were attacked and damaged or destroyed by firebombs, gunfire or other means during or around the period of the State of Emergency declared May 2010;
(h) The circumstances concerning the retrieval of firearms and other munitions in Western Kingston or any related or affected areas during or around the period of the State of Emergency declared in May 2010;
(i) The allegations that persons were especially armed to repel any law enforcement effort to capture the fugitive Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, and if so by whom;
(j) Whether there was any direct or indirect communication between the fugitive, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, and Jamaica Government officials, and if so, by which officials, by what means and for what purpose;
(k) The circumstances under which the fugitive Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke managed to elude arrest and the circumstances of his capture;
(l) The circumstances under which, and by whom, private property was damaged or destroyed during or around the period of the State of Emergency declared in May 2010;
(m) Whether the rights of any person or persons were violated in any of the affected or related communities by either law enforcement officers or by anyone else;
(n) The monies and other benefits paid and provided by the state to residents in West Kingston after the events of May 2010 in connection with those events, the manner in which such monies and other benefits were distributed and the amounts and recipients of such monies and other benefits. (Observer)