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Seeking Justice and Police Accountability in Jamaica


Jason Smith Candlelight Vigil; Photo courtesy of Madeleine Bair

In May 2010, New York prosecutors issued an extradition request for Jamaican Kingpin Christopher Coke – gangster to some, local hero to others. The search for Coke triggered a government crackdown on the neighborhood of Tivoli Gardens in Kingston, leaving 73 civilians dead in a span of just a few days.

The majority of those victims were innocent and their loved ones continue to fight for justice and accountability, despite Jamaica’s long record of police violence and government corruption. Today we bring you a documentary on police violence in Jamaica.

Special thanks to Madeleine Bair for producing this story, with support from Jamaicans for Justice and the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley.


Paulette Wellington, mother of Sheldon Wellington, Earl Witter, Jamaican Public Defender, Carolyn Gomes, Jamaicans for Justice, Susan Goffe, Jamaicans for Justice, Monica Williams, mother of Jason Smith and activist, and Dr. Ademola Odunfa, Kingston Hospital.



Victims Voices: Paulette Rose

For More Information:

Jamaicans for Justice
Jamaica Human Rights
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Jamaica

Articles and Books:
A Case Built in New York Against a Jamaican Kingpin
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Jamaica Report
Amnesty International Report 2003 – Jamaica
Amnesty International May 27, 2010, calling for an investigation
Jamaican Forces Accused of Killing Unarmed Men, New York Times
January Jamaica Gleaner article on Witter’s investigations

Urban’s fight, The Drastics off the album-Chicago Massive
The Alarm, The Drastics off the album-Chicago Massive

Author: Kwan

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1 Comment

  1. Before I knew much about all the complicated reasons why a country would have a police force like this, my reaction would be something like, “We have to do something about this – send in some UN troops, some peacekeepers.” But this kind of thinking is not a solution but usually worsens the problems, and should largely be avoided even when we hear painful stories and feel helpless, something so many Americans need to consider. It is not up to the US, UN or other country to import a solution; international financial institutions and foreign powers need to step out, stop fueling the corruption, and let Jamaicans create their own solutions.

    So, as a US citizen, I further understand the need for a real democracy here – so the people can have a say in our government’s foreign relations, such as free-trade rules which benefit US companies and destroy livelihoods of Jamaicans (and ultimately question the final sovereignty WTO) and such as requesting extradition of Christopher Coke – is this something we can ever have a say in? (and the US usually ignores extradition requests from other countries, of course).

    It is good to hear the perseverance of the community and from “Jamaicans for Justice,” it is a good thing Making Contact takes us into the lives of people who face these realities.

    So many thoughts!

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