October 2, 2023

“MUM’S” the word

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ELLINGTON: The Mystery Behind The Move – Officials Remain Mum On Top Cop’s Sudden Departure

SecurityD20100721NGGary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer From Jamaica Gleaner

Two years after handing Owen Ellington an unambiguous vote of confidence as the commissioner of police, the United States has refused to respond to speculation that its loss of confidence in the top cop sparked the abrupt end of his four-year run.

“We refer you to the Government of Jamaica for questions about Commissioner Ellington’s departure,” said the US Embassy in Kingston in response to questions from our news team that its government had lost faith in the top cop.

A similar response was presented when the embassy was quizzed about whether the US, backed by other international partners, indicated that it would no longer be willing to work with Ellington.

OwenEllingtonA20140122IAThe latest response from the US Embassy in Kingston came days after it told our news centre that it was concerned about reports of extra-judicial killings by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and wants the Government to take action to ensure that “any and all perpetrators of alleged gross violations of human rights are brought to justice”.

Now, the deafening silence from the US on whether it had lost confidence in Ellington has added to the growing speculation which has emerged since the security ministry announced last Monday that the commissioner would proceed on vacation leave with immediate effect and quit the force at the end of the leave.


It was only in 2012 that the US used its annual narcotics control report to express confidence in Ellington, while stating that he, like his predecessor, faced internal, judicial and political roadblocks in the effort to reform the force.

The report praised Ellington for his public stance against corruption, but questioned whether he would secure the necessary legislative support and political backing to make significant progress.

That confidence seemed to have been shared by National Security Minister Peter Bunting, as he defied members of his party who sources indicated were calling for Ellington to be replaced because his appointment was allegedly “politically influenced” under the Jamaica Labour Party administration.

Fast-forward two years and Ellington is headed out, and the most the US has been willing to say is that its government “places great importance on its relationship with the Jamaican Government and civil society. We enjoy close bilateral cooperation on a broad range of social, economic, and security issues”.

The embassy added that it “remains concerned about allegations of extrajudicial killings by elements of the JCF. While investigations into these allegations continue, the US is managing assistance in accordance with our laws and policies governing US foreign assistance”.

While allegation of extrajudicial killings have blotted the reputation of the JCF over the years, recent allegations by the Independent Commission of Investigations about several murders by the police in Clarendon and the arrests and charge of more than

10 cops in recent weeks have sparked fresh claims of a death squad operating in the force.

But even as the US Embassy responds to the sudden resignation of the commissioner in terse language while pointing to these allegations, the security minister has gone almost completely silent since his initial reaction last week.

It’s almost two years to the day that Bunting declared that the commissioner he inherited from the Jamaica Labour Party administration enjoyed his unstinting confidence.

It was in July 2012 that Bunting defiantly declared to Ellington’s detractors in his political party that the nation’s top crime fighter would be going nowhere.

At that time, Bunting refused to mince words, declaring that there was no ambiguity about his position as minister of national security.

“I believe that national security is one of the areas that we must leave outside of partisan politics,” said Bunting.

But now, with the explanation for Ellington’s abrupt end to a 34-year career eliciting a mixture of scepticism and cynicism across the public domain, Bunting has chosen to offer no more on the man who marshalled his men and women into the 2010 west Kingston operation and who grabbed public admiration, even being acknowledged as The Gleaner’s Man of the Year in 2011.

This has prompted public commentator Richard ‘Dickie’ Crawford to scoff at Bunting’s explanation for Ellington’s departure.

“Nobody believes the minister about voluntary resignation from a statement written, in fact, by the ministry.

“This explanation is another example of the contempt that the ministry has for the common sense of Jamaicans … and I would imagine for its overseas partners, as well, based on their responses to the issue,” asserted Crawford.

He charged that subsequent statements from other government spokespersons reveal the sad story of trying to evade responsibility and make light of one of the gravest problems facing Jamaica.

For more on this story go to: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140706/lead/lead1.html

See also iNews story under iNews Briefs published July 2 2014 “Jamaica’s commissioner of police retires unexpectedly” at: http://www.ieyenews.com/wordpress/inew-briefs/


St Vincent prime minister mum on CARICOM marijuana debate

smoking marijuana and drinking beer amid clouds of smokeBy Kenton Chance from Caribbean360

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Wednesday July 2, 2014, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he will not speculate about the outcome of the discussion within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as it relates to the decriminalisation of marijuana for medical purposes.

He further sidestepped a question on whether his government is willing to follow the lead of Jamaica, which last month decriminalised small quantities of marijuana for personal use.

“A process had commenced in CARICOM,” Gonsalves said told reporters as he prepared to handover the chairmanship of the 15-member grouping Tuesday.

Newly elected Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne will take over the CARICOM chairmanship for the next six months.

“There is a commission, which would be appointed and there are terms of reference to be approved at this meeting in Antigua,” he said.

“I would not prejudge what the commission will say,” Gonsalves said, adding that the commission will consider changes to marijuana legislations in countries around the world, including Jamaica, the United States, Sweden, and Uruguay.

“They will look at any number of places and they will make their recommendations. I await those recommendations, because I feel even in the absence of those recommendations, it seems to me counterproductive to ignore the potential of an industry in respect of medical marijuana and to continue to expend police, national security, court resources on persons who consume a minuscule amount of marijuana in the privacy of their homes,” said Gonsalves, who initiated the CARICOM discussion on the decriminalisation of marijuana.

State and health officials in several CARICOM countries have expressed reservation or outright opposition to changes to marijuana legislation.

“There are young people, good boys and girls, in many cases, good Christian boys and girls, good students who get caught behind their grandmothers’ houses smoking under 15 grammes of marijuana — a spliff,” Gonsalves said.

He noted that the laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines classify as possession with intent to supply the possession of more than 15 grammes (0.5 ounce) of marijuana.

“There are persons who have been criminalised for smoking a joint. With all the years of experience I have and all the studies I have to this matter, that seems to me to be entirely counterproductive and we need to have a serious conversation about that,” said Gonsalves, a lawyer, who is also Minister of Legal Affairs and national security.

“You don’t need to have an absolutely moral position on it, the same thing with alcohol. At the same time, whatever programme is done, we have to speak about negative side of marijuana and we have to deal with the educational and health issues attendant upon the misuse and abuse of marijuana.

“But what I have just said there does not in any way shut out an intelligent mature conversation on medical marijuana or for its decriminalisation in respect of very small quantities in your private spaces. It’s a subject about which we should talk and there are people who are afraid to talk about it,” he said.

He further accused the opposition New Democratic Party of not contributing to the discussion.

“They are afraid to touch it, because it is such a controversial subject. But, if I see reason in having a mature conversation on something, I don’t see why we shouldn’t. Some other issue may better be left to NGOs to initiate those conversations and have them.

“But I think this matter has reached a stage where at the state level it requires some serious conversation, which is happening at CARICOM,” Gonsalves said.

“I would not, therefore, prejudge what will happen and I therefore do not accept your invitation in that context to speculate on a hypothetical question,” he added.

For more on this story go to: http://www.caribbean360.com/news/st-vincent-prime-minister-mum-on-caricom-marijuana-debate

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