Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tivoli COE: Some Churches not into Accountability?

  • Are some Churches unconcerned with those responsible for the May, 2010 military operation which inter alia resulted in the deaths of more than 76 persons?
  • Are some churches primarily concerned with the state paying compensation for the damage and loss suffered by the residents of Tivoli?

In a letter to the Editor, Gleaner, published Thursday, December,11, 2014, written by the Rev. Orville H. Ramocan, Director in the Office of the President, Independent Churches of Jamaica (ICJ), the position of this group  on the Tivoli Commission of Enquiry is stated:

"ICJ believes that whoever was responsible for the physical violation of these poor people is irrelevant at this point in time. The reality is, the conditions and cause for these violations were created by the State. The State must now make every effort to bring healing and restoration to a community that has experienced much suffering. If this enquiry is not about helping the victims to pick up and start over with some sense of dignity, then the exercise will mean nothing to them."

One fully recognises that any grouping in the society has a right to select and advocate any position that its membership so desires. The ICJ is rightly concerned with the lives and welfare of the victims of the military operation in Tivoli in May 2010. 

  1. We submit that the matter of state compensation is not a matter to be investigated and settled by the Tivoli COE as presently constituted.
  2. The claims submitted need to be investigated in a manner similar to that undertaken in processing claims on insurance companies.
  3. The public airing of estimated and primarily unsubstantiated claims and the recording of such by the Commissioners gives rise to the expectation that, without more, such claims will be settled by the state in toto and promptly.
  4. The claimants making public their financial predicament open themselves not only too the tax authourities ( formal & informal) but parasitic elements who will demand a "cut". 
  5. The then Public Defender had indicated that the written claims submitted/collected were being processed by a cadre of volunteer attorneys. We are of the view that this is a most suitable mechanism in light of all the circumstances.

Surely the ICJ cannot be of the view that whilst the matter of financial compensation is addressed then that it the end of the matter. From the evidence so far , the state sought to make some redress-- although insufficient to rehabilitate the victims. Given the constrained financial space the GOJ finds itself, is it likely that the recommendations for the payment of financial compensation can be settled in the near future? Is there an obligation imposed on the GOJ to fully investigate such claims before allocating taxpayers' money? Are all losses incurred at during the incursion attributed solely to the state agencies?

Why are "the persons responsible for the physical violation of these poor people irrelevant" at this or any other point in time? In the view of the ICJ when, if ever, will " whoever was responsible"  be identified and held to account?  If the state can damage , violate and repay, then what is to prevent a recurrence of the said actions? The ability to pay?

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