Tivoli Commission of Enquiry: Not another Soap Opera?

Administrator on August 21, 2014, 1:38 pm 493 3
Tivoli Commission of Enquiry: Not another Soap Opera?

Another Commission of Enquiry is about to be undertaken to get answers to questions surrounding the events that took place in May 2010 for the extradition of former Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher "Dudus" Coke. The Enquiry will seek to find, among other things, whether there was "dereliction of duty and unlawful conduct" on the part of the security forces during their operations on that fateful day of May 23, 2010 that resulted in the deaths of some seventy-six civilians and one member of the security forces. Some believe that the number of the civilian dead was much higher but no evidence has yet been delivered to confirm this figure. The memory of the soap opera that was the Manatt Commission of Enquiry has inspired cynicism about the potential of this Tivoli Enquiry to be anything other than another entertaining display of legal antics.

About the Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference for this Enquiry speaks to a number of areas requiring answers, including whether there was "any direct or indirect communication between" government and the fugitive during the period when the Request for Extradition was made and the arrest of Mr. Coke. That question was not answered during the Manatt Enquiry and so it must take another Commission of Enquiry to get to the answer. Observers who are concerned about the need to bring closure to an unfortunate event in the life of the country would dare to hope that the human rights abuses that have been meted out against the people of Tivoli Gardens which also resulted in loss of lives and damage to property would be treated with the kind of dignity befitting the weighty questions at hand. Instead, the cynical expects another side show.

Even as the government prepares for this long awaited Commission of Enquiry, there is concern that the work of the Office of the Public Defender in providing a full Forensic Report that also points to those responsible for firing the fatal bullets is incomplete. Without the ballistic reports, it is argued, the Commission of Enquiry will amount to nothing more than a grand waste of time. A look at the Terms of Reference for the Tivoli Commission of Enquiry does not reveal any item that must explicitly await the results of the forensic investigations of the Office of Public Defender to properly proceed. In any event, the government is prepared to proceed with the Enquiry without awaiting the conclusion of the Public Defender's probe. Whether the civilians met their deaths at the hands of the security forces would definitely rely on the forensic reports which would actually assist any enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the joint police / military operation.

Commissions of Equiry can be quite expensive to undertake and the least the public should expect is that there is value for money. People have been disappointed that after all that show, no one was found criminally liable for what had transpired during the May 2010 operation. Jamaica is still awaiting the formal report of the FINSAC Commission of Enquiry which after six years and approximately $65 Million of tax payer dollars, no report has materialised. Jamaicans wait with bated breath for an enquiry that will get at the truth of what occurred and not another soap opera.

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