Privy Council upholds JFJ's challenge to promotion of Superintendent Delroy Hewitt

JFJ Director Rodje Malcolm


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.

Precedent set 

The JFJ responded to the ruling on Monday with Director Rodje Malcolm saying the decision has set a precedent to ensure that from now on, officers who respect human rights will be the ones who get promoted. 
The Privy Council will within the next 21 days be making binding legal declarations to enforce the decision "that in promoting officers who have serious allegations of human rights allegations, it is a legal requirement to conduct an effective and impartial inquiry and to receive information from credible sources prior to promoting officers around which such serious accusations exist," Mr. Malcolm outlined.  
He is hoping that the Police Service Commission will adhere to the law with respect to promoting officers when the declarations are presented. 


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