It is easy to forget – or half-forget, when there are many issues unresolved and pushed on one side. In 2022, the events of 2021 already seem half-forgotten; especially as the Jamaican media has moved on to new dramas (read: Crime, COVID, Corruption, the “big” stories and the breaking news).
You may remember that last summer (on July 22, to be precise) there was an incident at a rural police station that sparked anger on social media, a few media reports, and then… it was under investigation. Now, the young Rastafarian woman who was herself the victim of abuse, is to appear in court as an offender on February 3 – while still awaiting justice, six months later. I wrote about the cutting of her locks at the police station for Global Voices here. The Advocates Network, a civil society group focused on human rights, good governance and transparency issues, would like to know whether Ms. King will get justice, any time soon. Here is their press release:
The Advocates Network expresses concern at delays, seeks answers in Nzinga King Case
Kingston, Jamaica, Monday, January 24, 2022: After more than six (6) months, the Advocates Network is registering its deep disquiet and disappointment at the lack of information and delays in the investigation of the alleged cutting of the locks of Nzinga King in July, 2021. The Network is also raising its voice to demand respect and fair access to justice for Ms. King, whose rights as a woman and as a Rastafarian appear to have been infringed during this traumatic incident.
Ms. King was arrested on June 29 for not wearing a mask in accordance with COVID-19 protocols, and was charged for disorderly conduct. She was unable to pay the fine and was committed to ten days in police custody. This was when the cutting of her locks – a source of pride for all Rastafarians – took place, allegedly by a woman police officer at Four Paths Police Station in Clarendon. She is now scheduled to appear at the May Pen Court House on February 3 on a charge of violating the DRMA, yet the matter of the alleged abuse of her own rights by a police officer has not yet been addressed.
Following public outrage, media coverage and protests by members of the Rastafarian community, as well as our own advocacy since August 2, 2021, including a meeting with the Commissioner of Police, an investigation was undertaken initially by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), then later by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM). The Officer of the Public Defender also started an investigation. However, the outcome of these probes has not been made public, and INDECOM, having completed its investigations, handed the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions in December, 2021.
The Advocates Network anxiously awaits the results of the investigation into the reported human rights abuses committed at the police station – more than six months ago. Ms. King is symbolic of the “have nots” in Jamaica, who continue to be neglected and whose human rights are so often disregarded and abused.
For more information, contact:
Carla Gullotta – Tel (876) 362 – 4771
Indi Mclymont-Lafayette – Tel (876) 852-8763
The Advocates Network is an unincorporated, non-partisan alliance of individuals and organizations advocating for human rights and good governance to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people of Jamaica and to transform lives. Our core objective is to forge and effective, broad-based collaboration of individuals and civil society organizations to support human rights and good governance issues.