Government apologises for West Kingston incursion
KINGSTON – The Andrew Holness-led administration has formally apologised to residents of West Kingston and all Jamaicans who were affected by the operations of the security forces in May 2010, which resulted in the loss of lives and damage to property.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness delivered a statement in Parliament on Wednesday in which he expressed regret for the pain and loss which occurred during the operation, specifically the lives that were lost.
“The loss of life was never the option that the State wanted to take. The fact that lives were lost, therefore, is regrettable, is something that we are sorry for, and to start that process of healing, I believe there is grounds, and room for us to make a sincere apology,” Holness said.
During the 2010 security operations to capture the fugitive, Christopher “Dudus” Coke, 73 civilians and a soldier were killed while other persons were detained and properties damaged and destroyed.
A Commission of Inquiry into that operation recommended financial compensation for persons victimised by the State and that the Government issue a formal apology for the use of excessive force by the security forces. An apology was proposed as one form of redress and promoting justice as well as restoring trust and confidence in the State.
The Prime Minister said the Government has accepted the recommendations of the Commission and is leading “by extending the hand of peace, starting the process of healing, and in engineering the recovery of a country from one of violence and conflict, to one of peace, order, and the supremacy of the rule of law”.
Holness said the Government agrees that the events, the way they unfolded, presented enormous challenges to the security forces, but it is cognizant that even under those conditions, the standards of human rights must be observed by agents of the State.
He noted that an “expensive lesson” to be learnt from this event is that “even where emergency powers are used, even where we have suspended some rights by virtue of the use of emergency powers, the State, through its agents, in this case the security forces, is still bound to respect and preserve life and the dignity of the people they serve.”
He said the experience coming out of the security operations “can’t be for naught; it must define how we operate as a country going forward.” (CMC)