There is a virtual
state of emergency in Jamaica, where an average of 140 people are shot
dead by police every year. Correspondent investigates recent
In April this year,
13 year old Janice Allen was shot dead in the back as she went out to
buy a bag of rice, near her home in Trenchtown. She was in the wrong
place at the wrong time, but she was just one of an average of 140
people killed by police every year in Jamaica, which has the worst
record of police killings in the world.
Chewie's daughter holds his photo
Correspondent arrived on the scene in a Kingston neighbourhood just
hours after one young man, Chewie, had been tortured and killed by
police, to find his mother still crying in shock. She said they'd been
looking for someone else.
1400 killed in
Carolyn Gomes, of
human rights organisation, Jamaicans for Justice, says about 1400
people have been killed in the past eight years:
Carolyn Gomes, Jamaicans for Justice
"In that eight years you can count on maybe both my hands the
number of policemen that have been accountable. It is an emergency."
The roots of the
problem can be traced back to the early 1970s when Jamaica was pulled
apart by pro and anti- Western political factions in the shadow of the
encouraged this dangerous polarisation, rustling up votes by arming
different groups of young men in the inner city neighbourhoods.
Thousands of people died in shoot outs and reprisal killings,
culminating in nearly 1000 dead in the 1980 elections.
Unable to control the
gangs, the police very openly operated outside the law, and most
Jamaicans saw no way out of this impasse.
The case of the
The scene of the killing
But last March, in
Braeton, a quiet middle class suburb of Kingston, six young men were
shot dead by police as they played dominoes along with a seventh, a
friend passing by on a bike, and their case has sparked a nationwide
revolt against the status quo.
Correspondent how they heard the police - there were 60 of them -
arriving in cars and vans at the house, and heard the terrified young
men's pleas for mercy.
The head of the elite
crime unit, Superintendent Reneto Adams, told local TV crews it was a
Spt Reneto Adams
"Many of you will have heard the gunshots that came from the house.
We told them that we are the policemen, they were told to come out,
gunshots come from the windows. The police took evasive action."
But an independent
pathologist who examined the evidence is not convinced:
"All seven had
received multiple head wounds. Out of 37 gunshot lesions there were 15
to the heads. It seems not possible that this pattern of lesions could
have occurred by just random shooting."
And whilst Reneto
Adams claimed the young men were "gangsters", no evidence against any
of the boys has yet emerged.
The parents of the
Braeton 7 are resolved to fight for justice for their sons until the
end, but the past record of prosecutions against the police in Jamaica
suggests they could be in for a long struggle.
Dead men tell no
tales: Saturday 15th September at 1850 on BBC 2.
Producer: Ewa Ewart
Editor: Fiona Murch .