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Gov't apologises for happenings of West Kingston operation

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips and Deputy Financial Secretary Lorris Jarrett
 
 
More than one and a half years after it was recommended, the Government of Jamaica has delivered the apology for the events in the May 2010 security forces operation in West Kingston.
 
The apology was delivered in the House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
 
When the Prime Minister took the floor, he firstly apologised "unreservedly and unequivicably" to the people of Jamaica "for the fear and uncertainty that defined that time."
 
He then apologised to the people of West Kingston, particularly of Tivoli Gardens and Denham Town "who were most affected through loss of life and damage to property and the pain they endured by the violence that took place."
 
In addition, Mr. Holness said he was sorry to the members of the security forces, who faced "unprecedented levels of violence" in the West Kingston operation, some of whom lost their lives during that time.  
 
"To all the families of those who lost loved ones or had persons injured during that period, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the government, State, security forces, we apologise," he said. 
 
The apology was one of the 15 recommendations put forward by the Sir David Simmons led West Kingston Commission of Enquiry.
 
The Commission, which also included retired Justice Mrs Hazel Harris and University of the West Indies Professor Anthony Harriott, sat from December 2014 to February 2016 and issued its recommendations later that year.
 
The Commission said a public apology was necessary in order to calm the hurt, bitterness and resentment of the people of West Kingston, and with a view to promoting restorative justice and bringing closure to what it called a sorry chapter in Jamaica's history.
 
Unfinished matters
 
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips said while the apology is welcomed, there are still unfinished matters to be dealt with.
 
He mentioned the issue of the dismantling of garrisons, which is one of the recommendations in the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry Report.
 
"It is a matter arising and the state of civilisation that the Prime Minister is describing and which we subscribe to, will not be reached unless we deal with these matters arising, today!" he suggested.  
 
He also called for a Truth Commission to be established.
 
Compensation 
 
The revised 2017/2018 budget includes a sum of $449 million set aside to pay compensation to victims of the 2010 security forces operation in West Kingston.
 
However, that figure is not expected to be final.
 
"What they had was an overhang and what we tried to do in the Supplementary (Budget) was to provide for a portion of the overhang. Prior to that, there would have been other judgement awards made because I understand that the figure is now far in excess of this 449 (million dollars)," Deputy Financial Secretary Lorris Jarrett explained.  


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