In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a lawyer but having written dozens and dozens of articles over the years on the factual issue that INDECOM does not have the power of arrest over members of the JCF, the Court of Appeals confirmed my contention in a 2-1 decision yesterday.
My contention, having read the INDECOM Act has been specifically targeted to the question of arrests.
There was never any question that INDECOM has the power to investigate whatever it wants under the law but that at the conclusion of those investigations the results of those investigations must be turned over to the duly constituted prosecuting authority which is the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions(DPP).
There is nothing in that concept that hinders the Commission from aggressively going after targets it deems worthy of an investigation. What is in question is the commission’s hell-bent desire to arrest and do its own prosecution.
The court in it’s ruling said that INDECOM investigators can arrest as any Jamaican can under common law.
The Commission’s Commissioner insisted after the ruling that it hardly ever arrest any officer but by warrant. In interviews given to local Media, the Commissioner went on to say that his officers, only arrested officers under the common law authority that every other Jamaican has even while conceding that INDECOM itself does not have any such power of arrest under the law.
To sum up that twisted logic, the Commissioner is saying that even though a member of the public may make what is called a citizens arrests which his agents would and have been doing, INDECOM itself could not back such arrests because it does not have any power of arrest.
For the record, a person may only effect a citizen’s arrest when a crime is committed in his or her view. INDECOM’s investigators surely do not see police officers committing arrestable offenses yet they have unlawfully and zealously arrested many officers.
It was that very egregious power grab which forced DSP Dyer to resist INDECOM’s aggression and upon conviction led the fight to show that INDECOM was operating outside its authority.
Even as the consequences of this monumental ruling settles in, I am sure attorneys for every police officer who have been arrested and charged by INDECOM must be looking at filing briefs before the courts to have those cases revisited and reviewed.
THE REAL ISSUE HERE
There is a larger issue here which bears serious consideration as we look at the body of circumstantial evidence which has accrued against INDECOM and it’s Commissioner Terrence Williams in its 8-year history.
Whatever is in the Act was placed in the Act by the nation’s parliament, as such whoever, the head of the commission is, he or she has a duty and an obligation to adhere to the letter and spirit of the law.
The head of the JCF, the Contractor General, and every other Investigative body can only operate inside the frameworks of the respective acts which empowers them to act on the Jamaican people’s behalf.
INDECOM does not seem to understand those basic tenets as it’s commissioner has unsuccessfully sought to consolidate powers it does not have through the courts over the years.
After the ruling Terrence Williams has indicated that it intends to consider whether to appeal to the Privy Council in London. The Privy Council is the final arbiter for cases in countries such as Jamaica which refuses to rewrite their constitutions and is still hanging on to Britains apron strings for no measurable reason.
The Privy Council has been reluctant to hear cases from the former British colonies but the larger issue is the cost of this action being contemplated.
Which brings us full circle to the funding of INDECOM which I wrote about just this week. INDECOM and its officers seem to believe that they are above the laws. More Importantly, the Commission does seem to believe its powers supersedes that of the Parliament which drafted and passed the Law they are enforcing.
In other words, the tail seems to be wagging the dog and the dog is eerily silent.
It was Bruce Golding who gave the nation this law, to be fair, the PNP was equalling complicit in colluding with the JLP by passing this bill into law that defies intellect and rational reasoning.
The loopholes in the law defy credulity and causes one to wonder whether there was any intention to exercise legislative maturity.
The desired intent of the law was apparently to have a law which was hyper injurious to the Police without considering that any officer would challenge its legitimacy.
This publication was born out of that travesty.
I have consistently sought to bring to the attention of the Jamaican people the simple fact that this INDECOM act as it is configured is both unconstitutional to officers and deadly consequential to their peace and security.
Not only has Terrence Williams long overstepped his authority in making illegal arrests and disarming officers of their weapons and lying about it, as has been established in the Appellate Court’s ruling but he has consistently over the years aligned himself with lobby groups which are diametrically opposed to the Police.
In so Doing Terrence Williams has placed himself squarely in a confrontational position with the police for no clear reason. His blatant advocacy and agitating both in the courts and in the media has been a constant staple over the life of the neophyte agency’s lifetime and far outpaces his mandate which is to investigate.
The Police have long called for the firing of Terrence Williams but the Bruce Golding Government laughed and kept him in place with the blessings of the PNP.
Not only have they not fired Williams who clearly is more unnecessary trouble than worth to the Jamaican people, they gave him a second term.
The Andrew Holness Administration though fully conversant that Williams is operating outside of the law have not moved to remove him from office.
Ultimately the members of the Security Forces must seek redress in the courts, all the way to the Privy Council if necessary to get monetary redress which unfortunately will be borne by the Jamaican taxpayers.
Over the years a few Jamaicans have set aside their blinkers and called for a clipping of Williams’ wings, yesterday the DPP joined that call. I welcome their epiphany albeit 8-years late.
This agency has become a major problem in our country and is certainly not value for money. The really frightening thing is that almost half of INDECOM’s budget is pouring into the country from outside interests, $230.616 million for 2016/2017 and $353.35 million for 2017/2018.
That’s a hell of a lot of money and no one is asking what are they getting for it?