Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has said lawmakers would be taking steps to ensure that the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) carries out its duties with “balance”.
“We take the view that there really needs to be balance in how INDECOM operates… . I think this House which created the institution still retains the power. At some point, and I suspect it would have to be sooner than later, we will have to take some decisions to ensure that that very important institution operates with balance,” he said.
He was responding to concerns raised by Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips, in relation to the disarming of the police by the oversight body.
The Prime Minister was speaking in the House of Representatives on January 30.
During the sitting, all 51 members of the House who were present voted in favour of the Emergency Powers (Continuance) Resolution 2018, which will extend the State of Public Emergency in the parish of St. James until May 2, 2018. The State of Public Emergency was declared on January 18.
Imploring members of the security forces to obey the law, Dr. Phillips said, “I want to urge those who investigate them, including INDECOM, to be mindful of the circumstances in which they operate”.
“If INDECOM has a problem with the members of the security forces, I don’t think they should disarm them in public, in full view of the citizens. I think it unnecessarily demoralises the men and women who are urged to obey the law, but who operate in what is a very dangerous situation on the street. There is literally a war that has been declared on society, and in that circumstance, you cannot weaken those who serve in the face of those who attack them,” said Dr. Phillips.
The INDECOM is a Commission of Parliament, governed by the INDECOM Act. The Act was passed on April 15, 2010, and the Commission began operation on August 16, 2010.
The INDECOM Act repealed the Police Public Complaints Act that established the Police Complaints Authority (PPCA), which was a civilian body established to probe allegations against members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
INDECOM is a civilian-staffed State agency tasked to undertake investigations concerning actions by members of the security forces and other agents of the State that result in death or injury to persons or the abuse of the rights of persons.
Members of the security forces and other agents of the State for which INDECOM provides oversight include the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), District Constables, Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), and the Correctional Officers at the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).