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From LKJ Records

Posted by SNWMF office 
From LKJ Records
May 04, 2006 04:53PM
We received this email today and felt it should be shared..
Dear Friends,

It is common knowledge in Jamaica that the police routinely execute known or wanted criminals instead of subjecting them to due process of law. Potential witnesses to these killings are often taken out too. These extra-judicial killings (over 200 in 2005) continue unabated in spite of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights report in 2003 and a follow-up report in February this year. It is the view of some Jamaicans that these murders are to be condoned because of the frightening number of murders (over 1600 in 2005). Other Jamaicans at home and abroad are appalled. In the absence of the rule of law Jamaica is teetering towards authoritarianism on the one hand and anarchy on the other.

Families Against State Terrorism (FAST) is a small human rights/civil liberties organisation founded by Yvonne McCalla Sobers and Barrington Fox in Jamaica five years ago. During that time FAST has done tremendous work in exposing the continued practice of extra-judicial executions by the Jamaican police and Defence force; campaigned vigorously against that barbaric practice; supported bereaved families; assisted them in their interface with the justice system; lobbied international human rights organisations and provided them with research data (the Jamaican authorities put numerous obstacles in their way. FAST was recently told that it would have to pay £5000 for the transcript of a trial where four polilce officers were unsuccessfully prosecuted for murder).

The aims and objectives of FAST and their method of work follows.

I am inviting you to join me in establishing a loose network of support for FAST called Friends of FAST. The aim of this network will be to assist FAST in disseminating information about their activities; to lobby on their behalf where possible, and where possible to offer financial support. If you do not wish to be part of this loose network (no chairman, treasurer, secretary or meetings), please indicate and I will ensure that your name is removed from my provisional list of potential supporters.

Regards,
Linton Kwesi Johnson



Profile of Families Against State Terrorism (FAST)



Mission: FAST aims to bring about systemic changes in state policies so security forces are held accountable for upholding human rights.



FAST also aims to provide emotional, psychological, social, practical and legal support to family members bereaved through acts of violence by the Jamaica Constabulary Force or Jamaica Defence Force.



Way of operating: The approach is shared, participative, and self-help, enabling grassroots persons to represent their own interests in the media; and providing members with a space where they can articulate concerns and share strategies for finding justice for bereaved families.



Situation: The police have continued to kill and abuse citizens with impunity. Last year the police took the lives of over 200 civilians, and are involved in an average of over 140 extra-judicial executions each year. Since 2001 when FAST was established, only one policeman has been found guilty of murdering a civilian. The societal panic resulting from an escalating murder rate has encouraged Jamaicans as a whole to give carte blanche to the security forces to be judge, jury and executioner of those they deem ‘criminals’. The outcome is an entrenched devaluation of human life on the one hand, and deep cynicism about the justice system on the other hand.



Activities: Research

Support for bereaved families

Intervention to assist families to interface with justice/security systems

Internal and external education (flyers, media appearances, street activities)

Networking locally and internationally



Organisation: FAST was founded by Yvonne McCalla Sobers (currently chairman) and Barrington Fox (currently deputy chairman). Fox’s son was taken into custody by the police, and then was shot dead in the police vehicle. Members are mainly relatives of persons who have met injustice at the hands of state agents. Membership fluctuates, but we have a core of about ten members who carry out the lobbying and support functions of the organization.



Challenges: FAST encounters resistance from police bodies who give their colleagues unconditional support when police killings or abuses occur. Government officials have also objected to our advocacy for equal respect for the rights of all Jamaicans. For example, the current Ministers of National Security and of Justice have so far refused to meet with us or to invite us to attend consultations on human rights issues.



Some cases: Richard Williams. Four policemen were charged with Williams’ murder on Spanish Town in 2001. One of the policemen absconded, and the other three are currently on trial.



Braeton Seven. FAST focused on this case in the attempt to bring about systemic changes. We liaised with Amnesty International to enable the families to have a Danish pathologist to observe the autopsies of the seven young men whom the police killed at Braeton in 2001. FAST kept local and international media attention focused on this case, and also provided families with pro bono legal representation.



As a result of our efforts, six policemen faced a murder trial in January 2006. All the policemen were found not guilty.

.

Crawle case. FAST also supported families of the two men and two women killed at Crawle in 2003. As a result of the pressure from FAST and other human rights groups, the case was investigated by Scotland Yard, and investigators had the benefit of the most sophisticated forensic expertise available.



As a result of our efforts, six policemen, including a Senior Superintendent of Police, faced a murder trial in October 2006. They were all found not guilty.



Some achievements: The work of FAST, in collaboration with other human rights groups, has resulted in the government’s:



a. Establishing of a system where relatives of persons killed by the police have the right to pathologist observers at autopsies.

b. Disbanding a police unit (Crime Management Unit) that was responsible for about 40 police killings (including at Braeton and at Crawle) in the 30 months of its existence.

c. Commissioning an enquiry into the operations of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. We had lobbied for that office to be more accountable to the public.

d. Increasing the public’s access to information.



Further, in the new Prime Minister’s inaugural address on March 31, 2006, she said her first pledge was to uphold the human rights and civil liberties of all Jamaican citizens



Current targets: We plan to establish a secretariat where we will be more available to drop-in callers, and where we can more efficiently maintain our database. We also plan to increase our capacity to build internal and external links with a website and publications of material to educate grassroots persons on their civic rights and responsibilities. We therefore need to develop a funding base to enable us to achieve these goals.
Re: From LKJ Records
May 04, 2006 11:37PM
sounds like the u.s. of a. (we're #1).
Re: From LKJ Records
May 22, 2006 01:09AM
>Heavy Duty Reality^
>no peace, no justice!



-RASpects+
Re: From LKJ Records
May 22, 2006 05:20PM
rewind and reverse in reality...
no justice, no peace.
at least some JA people takes matters into their own hands.(or will)
wish the US would step up like that with the gas situation.
remember a bit back when they rioted about gas prices?

"Justice evolves only after injustice is defeated."- chuck d
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