The Judicial Committee of the UK based Privy Council has ruled in favour of human rights advocacy group Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) which challenged the decision of the Police Service Commission (PSC) to promote the now-retired Delroy Hewitt from superintendent to Senior Superintendent of Police.
Both the Jamaican Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal rejected arguments by JFJ that the PSC should have conducted investigations into allegations of human rights abuses involving the former senior cop.
The Privy Council said the Police Service Commission should inform itself about officers recommended for promotion.
It said the Commission has a duty to ensure that allegations of extrajudicial killings are fully and independently investigated before accepting a recommendation that an officer be promoted.
The UK based court added that the Police Service Commission, like the Jamaica Constabulary Force and Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), must exercise its functions in a manner which is compatible with the fundamental rights of all persons.
It said that the Commission had the power to ask INDECOM to investigate.
The court said, while the level of serious violent crime in some parts of Jamaica was a grave concern, there was also a grave concern, both nationally and internationally, that some members of the Force were overly inclined to take the law into their own hands in dealing with it.
This, it said, could risk violations of the right to life, to due process of the law and to equality before the law of the people involved.
The Privy Council’s judgment was posted on its website Monday morning. It noted that Mr Hewitt has retired so the quashing of the PSC's decision and requirement for reconsideration has become academic.