Wednesday, February 19, 2020

An important ruling in Jamaica

Two years ago we reported on a strange situation in Jamaica, where members of the Defence Force were given immunity from civilian murder prosecution under questionable circumstances. Yesterday, the island state's Constitutional Court released a 2-1 decision setting aside certificates of good faith that had been suspiciously issued years after the events at issue. According to this article in The Observer:
Supreme Court Judge Justice Leighton Pusey, in handing down the ruling on behalf of a panel of three judges yesterday, declared that the “criminal proceeding should be restored to the trial list”.

The matter had screeched to a halt in April 2018 after the court was provided “with good faith certificates purporting to grant immunity from prosecution to each of the defendants”. Each certificate was, on its face, signed by then Minister of National Security Peter Bunting on February 22, 2016, pursuant to regulation 45 (3) of the Emergency Powers Regulations, 2010. The regulations were, in turn, made under section 3 of the Emergency Powers Act.

Each good faith certificate stated that the actions of the JDF personnel on May 27, 2010, between the hours of 12:00 am and 12:00 pm, at 18 Kirkland Close, Red Hills, St Andrew, which may have contributed to or cause the death of Keith Clarke, were done in good faith in the exercise of functions as a members of the security forces for public safety, the restoration of order, the preservation of the peace, and in the public interest.

According to the certificates, the said actions were undertaken by the named member of the security forces during the existence of the emergency period declared by the governor general on May 23, 2010.

When the issue of the validity of the good faith certificates was raised in 2018 the court made an order staying the criminal proceedings for three months to enable the parties to apply to the Full Court for a determination of the question of the validity of the good faith certificates.

Yesterday, Justice Pusey, in the 55-page judgement, expressed discomfort with those very certificates.
 We will provide a link to the opinions in the case when they become available.

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