Special privilege for INDECOM a breach of natural justice

Letters to the Editor

Special privilege for INDECOM a breach of natural justice

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

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Dear Editor,
By way of a special privilege laced in section 20 of the INDECOM (Independent Commission of Investigators) Act, which states that “for the purpose of giving effect to section 4, 13 and 14, the commissioner and the investigative staff shall, in the exercise of their duty under the Act, have the like powers, authorities, and privileges as are given by law to a constable”.

The commissioner and his 'bull bucks and duppy conquerors' are having a feast of the liberty of the men and women in the security services in Jamaica. The powers of a constable are general in nature, but specific guidelines are outlined for them to make any arrest. The powers of arrest given to a constable are grounded in sections 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, and 21 of the Constabulary Force Act.

Sections 4, 13, and 14 of the INDECOM Act only speaks categorically of the investigative body having the power to:
a) require any person to furnish information relevant to any matter being investigated by INDECOM;

b) to initiate or direct an investigation; and
c) to decide the appropriate method for conducting an investigation.

Fast-forward to section 20 of the INDECOM Act. The purpose of giving effect to sections 4, 13 and 14 is to give the commissioner and his investigative teams special privilege to operate in bulwark institutions like the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF). Those sections are credence for the function and execution of the commission's investigation, not to arrest and prosecute anyone. The complete investigation of a complaint by INDECOM is to be prosecuted by another independent creature, like the director of public prosecutions (DPP). That's the chain of command in the justice system. To do otherwise is unconstitutional.

The wanton and unconstitutional arrest and prosecution of members of the police force by INDECOM is discriminatory and should stop forthwith. The decision by the judge of the Supreme Court who has given INDECOM the permission to arrest and prosecute members of the security forces is not just erred in law but lampooning the constitution of Jamaica.

Section 24 (2) of the constitution says, “No person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue of any written law or in the performance of the function of any public office or any public authority.” The police do not have the power of investigation, arrest, and prosecution. Neither should the police ever given that power, but why INDECOM?

I trust that the police will be successful in getting this error rescinded as section 25 (1) of the constitution states that “if any person alleges that any of the provisions of section 14 to 24 [inclusive] of this constitution has been, is being or likely to be contravened in relation to him…that person may apply...for redress.”

Daniel Solomon Bennett
Former sergeant of the JCF

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