There are hundreds of cases of horrific murders committed in Jamaica each year, that would cause any reasonable person of sound mind and judgment to say this cannot stand.
In most cases, the horrific details are not shown to the Jamaican people. Media houses sometimes do not have the imagery, and in other cases have determined that the images are far too gruesome for public consumption.
The value of that strategy is arguable, as many Jamaicans still seem to be in the fog about the savagery of the Island’s criminals.
In inner-city communities, and now all across the Island, in once-peaceful communities, people live in total fear of their own neighbors. They know that the men living next door are dangerous killers, but they are too terrified to even report their activities to the authorities.
The last person executed in Jamaica was Nathan Foster, who was convicted of murder and hanged in 1988. The Jamaican Parliament then placed a moratorium on the death penalty until 2009, when it was lifted.
Even so, since then, not a single person has faced the death penalty regardless of the horrific nature of the crimes they committed.
Not only has there been no hangings ( the previous method of death for capital offenders), on the rare occasion a mass murderer is convicted, he is given a laughable sentence, sometimes as little as five years in prison or less.
The confluence of cozy complicity with criminality at all levels, has served to embolden traditional criminals, and has created a new set of even more dangerous trans-Atlantic criminal enterprises.
Instead of taking steps to protect the country and its inhabitants from the mindless killing machines, administrations of both Political parties have opted to go in the opposite direction.
By that I mean, they have opted to be more conciliatory toward the criminal gangs which are the familial base of the murderers.
Both political parties and elements within the security apparatus are affiliated with elements in the criminal underworld.
This was common knowledge from decades ago when I was a law enforcement officer.
Today, we know this from actions taken by the Americans in the cancellation of visas and other punitive measures against politicians and law enforcement officials.
We also see these associations manifested in the inability and unwillingness of the police to investigate arrest and prosecute certain well-placed criminals.
In fact, it is well known that the Jamaican police only go after low-level street criminals, while well-connected gangland aficionados and their political sponsor’s thumb their noses at the law with impunity.
The two political parties pay lip service to the rule of law through high profile photo-ops and the passage of toothless watered-down anti-crime measures, while simultaneously deconstructing the potential of the JCF to effectively tackle the gangs.
The passage of the INDECOM Act is one such measure which gives the impression locally and internationally, that the much-maligned police force was indeed guilty of widespread extra-judicial killings and other acts of criminality.
Sure, there were some extra-judicial killings and other acts of criminality within the constabulary, but those were by-products of political interference and the starvation of the security forces of vital resources. Show me a country or a security service that does not have those dark secrets in their past and present.
This does not mean that we agree with them. We work to make our security services better thereby removing the need for those practices.
The perception that the police were inherently corrupt presented a golden opportunity in 2010 for the JLPs Bruce Golding to create INDECOM the Independent Commission Of Investigations and place at its head a known anti-political functionary Terrence Williams.
Terrence Williams’s brother was a junior minister in the administration.
The passage of the INDECOM Act was one of the rare instances that both political parties agreed on a piece of legislation. Coming up with legislation which further hamstrung the police was something both political parties could easily agree on.
And they did. The result was a horrific piece of legislation which could easily be named the [criminality enhancement act]. Instead, they named it the INDECOM Act.
The truth of the matter is that this legislation would (a) further pacify the population in their favor against the hated police and (b) give them a freer hand to continue with their criminal affiliations with a much weaker and neutered police force.
But they were not done. A phalanx of foreign-based human rights agencies set up shop on the Island. The Inter American Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International, and others all of a sudden cared about poor Jamaicans well-being. Never mind that in the case of the birthplace of those agencies, the United States and Britain respectively, poor black and brown people are treated as disposable commodities.
Additionally, local human rights groups emerged, all have seats at the table. New legislation must first pass muster with them. Whatever laws are passed are basically toothless endeavors that do nothing to remediate the burgeoning crime epidemic.
Jamaica is now constrained by the United States and England as to how it can treat its most dangerous criminals. On the contrary, no one gets to tell either country how to protect its citizens.
The JCF became a paper elephant.
Had the Bruce Golding administration sought to change the paradigm by investing in the recruitment, training and equipping of the JCF with the resources spent on INDECOM Jamaica would have had a first world police department, with first-world capabilities.
The government of Jamaica spent: $366.492 million in fiscal year 2016/2017 on INDECOM, while the agency received $230.616 million from other sources.
According to INDECOM, it receives funding from various international donors. This gives rise to the question, why?
Why are foreign groups funding a watchdog group instead of assisting the Jamaica Constabulary Force with the resources it needs to fight trans-national crime and terrorism?
INDECOM insists; that since inception, it has also received support by way of sponsorship from international partners: the Department for International Development (DFID), the United States International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), European Union (EU) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). DFID and EU provide annual funding used to offset expenses of the Commission to include payments of salaries and internationally recognized training programs. For 2017, the contributions of our international sponsors were directly linked to the successful execution of the Commission’s hosting of the Caribbean Use of Force in Law Enforcement Conference in May. https://www.indecom.gov.
It should be noted that INDECOM does no law enforcement work. And so the financial resources it receives from its overseas sponsors, supposedly from the United States, for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, are either(a) misused or (b) questionable in its designation.
It is the JCF that is tasked with law enforcement, including the fight against illegal narcotics.
Why would the Americans in good faith give money to a [police oversight group], under the guise of Narcotics and Law Enforcement?
If the Americans were serious about Narcotics and law enforcement its monetary contribution would have gone to the JCF for training and equipping officers to effectively fight the scourge of illicit drugs coming into the Island from South America and the guns deluging the Island from America’s own shores.
The entirety of the issues driving crime on the Island is myriad and complex. Nevertheless, the foregone provides a glimpse into the belly of the beast.
Out of the incompetence and complicity of the two political parties comes the creation and proliferation of murderous criminal gangs.
Jamaica has always struggled with maintaining the rule of law, particularly in certain hotspots created and maintained by .…..you guessed it.
However, the steps taken by the two political parties have led to a state of dread and fear across the Island. One such case which is chronicled on Thursdays Observers, gives a morbid glimpse of what is really happening even as politicians continue to paint a picture of progress and perfection.
JOEITH Lynch, 18, and her mother Charmaine Rattray were not total strangers to the group of about eight or nine marauding gunmen who in July 2011 shot and hacked them to death before beheading them. But the ‘memory’ of the savagery of that night was enough to drive three of the five to confess their involvement, claiming that it was either they carry out the brutal crimes or be killed.
Caution statements entered on behalf of three of the five who yesterday pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston at the beginning of the trial, detailed the moments leading up to the horrific crimes and the days following, claiming they have been tormented by memories of the incident.
“I got involved in it though I couldn’t do nothing about it. Either I was involved or I would be killed. Is not something that I wishfully wanted to take part of. I know I was dealing with some serious people. It was either I go or I die,” Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn read from one of the statements.
According to the accused, he was called and told that the two were to die because they had been witnesses to the death of Scott Thomas (another individual in the area who was killed shortly before) and “them talk too much”.
He said late that night about nine of them, all members of the notorious Klansman Gang, went to the house in Lauriston, St Catherine, where he heard one female say “I did nothing” twice after the door was kicked off, followed by Lynch crying for help and shouting the name of one of the accused who was known to her, followed by a gunshot. He said the head of the mother was chopped off and taken away and he was sent back inside for Lynch’s head which he threw into a gully as instructed because it was “bleeding too much”.
One of the accused, who happens to be a relative of Lynch, in his caution statement, said on the night in question he was home when he was approached by one of his cronies who told him that they were going on the road that night. He claimed that when he met with him later that night he gave him a cutlass and a file. They were joined by a few more men at which time he was told that “a Crystal (Joeith) and har madda wi a guh fah ’cause the general sey dem fi dead”.
He said after the front door to the women’s dwelling was kicked off, one of his allies said, “Si di gal deh, chop her up”. He claimed he pretended to chop her three times, then chopped her the fourth time, but not with his “strength”. He said he was then asked, “A so yuh chop somebody?” before the cutlass was taken away from him by another who proceeded to further chop Lynch, who screamed his name twice before she was shot in the head by that individual.
He said he heard her mother in the other room saying “The blood of Jesus is against you” before he heard gunshots in that room. The accused claimed he then ran from the house in pursuit of another individual who had been chopped by him during the ordeal. He does not, however, know what happened afterward.
“That’s all mi do, that’s all mi know what happen; mi nevah know dem a go cut off dem head. Next morning mi wake up and hear, mi feel so sad. After dat mi have sleepless nights at home, and that’s all mi know, mi can’t sey a dat deh man cut off di people dem head cah mi nevah deh deh when di head dem a cut off,” he said in the statement.
Yesterday, the first witness for the prosecution testified that upon being alerted about the incident while on patrol in the wee hours of the morning he proceeded to the dwelling where, upon entering, he observed the mutilated, headless bodies of the women in pools of blood in their bedrooms with “blood all over” the beds, three to four spent shell casings in one room, and one spent shell in the other.
Yesterday, DPP Lewellyn said the post-mortem results for Rattray showed that she had received eight chop wounds with the cause of death being traumatic shock caused by multiple shots and chop wounds.
Lynch’s cause of death was also traumatic shock and multiple chop wounds. She was shot in the head and also chopped in the face and on her hands.
The DPP, noting the men’s statements, pointed out that “duress is not a defense to murder”. She said further that the men “knew they were going on a move to cause death, even if they did not indicate that they did the chopping or the shooting”, though admitting to being armed with either a gun or a cutting implement.
“They were all there aiding and abetting… they were in common design to cause the death of these women,” Llewellyn said, referencing case law to detail why the prosecution had settled on the charge of non-capital murder.
Yesterday, three of the five, in a surprise twist, pleaded guilty to non-capital murder, while the remaining two accused pleaded not guilty to murder.
Currently, non-capital murder cases, which can be tried with seven jurors, refer to those in which the particular offense is not punishable by death.
The DPP, in making the opening submission and referring to the three said, “The allegations are perhaps the facts now that the men have pleaded guilty.”
All five suspects lived on Rio Cobre Drive, a short distance away from the home of the victims. It is alleged that between 11:30 pm on July 19, 2011, and 5:45 am July 20, 2011, both deceased were shot, chopped and beheaded. Both women had been allegedly warned that they were marked for death but the elder female stubbornly refused to relocate from the area, reportedly saying “if is fi mi time is fi mi time”.
Prior to yesterday’s proceedings, the DPP had indicated that she intended to ask for the death penalty for the men who have been in custody for nine years.
Social inquiry reports are to be provided for the three and Supreme Court Judge Justice Vivienne Harris said the sentencing hearing for the men is set for Wednesday, December 11, at 2:00 pm.
The trial for the remaining two continues today at 10:00 am and is expected to last two weeks.
Mike Beckles is a former Jamaican police Detective corporal, a business owner, avid researcher, and blogger.
He is a black achiever honoree, and publisher of the blog chatt-a-box.com.
He’s also a contributor to several websites.
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