I always had a bad feeling about the long-delayed trial relating to the July, 2011 murder of teenager Khajeel Mais. Since the acquittal of Patrick Powell for Mais’ murder on October 24, there has been a huge public upsurge of anger and disgust – and a growing suspicion that all was not well with the case. I wrote about “The Court of Public Opinion” in my Jamaica Gleaner blog here. First of all, there is the all too common matter of “Justice delayed, Justice denied.” But then, why did the story not make sense (and even less so after subsequent developments and details emerged – revealed by the investigative media when the case was already over)? To my mind, it all begins and ends with a word beginning with “C.” Here is an urgent media release from National Integrity Action, following a statement by the Firearm Licensing Authority issued late on Tuesday. I should add that there have been even more developments in the matter earlier today.
November 2, 2016
In the light of the November 1, 2016 statement by the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), National Integrity Action (NIA) calls for an immediate investigation of the failure of the authority to withdraw the firearm users licence from Patrick Powell, as well as for the strongest possible sanctions to be applied to the officer or officers found to be negligent in this regard.
The FLA statement, inter alia, indicates that on August 31, 2011 “The then FLA Board Chairman, Retired Assistant Commissioner Errol Strong requests information and documentation on the Patrick Powell case. There is no evidence in Board minutes to show that the requested information was provided to the Board”. The statement indicates no action on this matter for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. It is only in July 2016 that the “new FLA Board requests information on the Patrick Powell case from the FLA Management”. At that point the public is told “no information was provided”.
NIA regards this sequence as a most disgraceful violation of all canons of accountability. We remind the public of a major conclusion, arrived at by the Jamaica Justice System Reform Taskforce as follows: “The Jamaican justice system is too unequal: there is a lack of equality between the powerful wealthy litigant and the under resourced litigant” (2007 p.24). Almost ten years later the question has to be asked: Does not the handling of this matter by the FLA reflect the inequality which the blue ribbon task force, including then Chief Justice Lesley Wolfe found in addition to the complete absence of accountability? The public must demand that the current leadership of the FLA take prompt and severe action to remedy this disgraceful breach especially in the context of the pending case relating to the breach of s39(4) of the Firearms Act for the offence of failing to handover the firearm to investigators for inspection.
Professor Trevor Munroe, Executive Director National Integrity Action