Soldiers and policemen walk in Tivoli, a neighborhood in Kingston, during clashes with groups that support drug trafficker Christopher " Dudus" Coke. (Photo: EPA/MARK BROWN/Landov)
A year ago, a government-issued state of emergency gripped parts of Jamaica as security forces faced off against suspected notorious drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke.
Now, many months after Coke’s arrest and extradition to the U.S. to face drugs and weapons charges, an Amnesty International report is urging officials in the small Caribbean island to go after those responsible for the 74 killings that took place during the first few days of the two-month state of emergency.
After attacks by gunmen on Jamaican police, officials declared the emergency in the Kingston and St. Andrew parishes on May 23, 2010, in an attempt to restore calm to the region. Coke was believed to be holed up in West Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens neighborhood as his loyalists fought to protect him from police capture. Just two days into the security forces’ operation to get Coke, 74 people were killed, including one member of the Jamaica Defense Force, and 54 people were injured. In addition, more than 4,000 were detained during the state of emergency, according to the report. Coke eventually surrendered in June.
To date, no one has been prosecuted for the killings, and the organization is demanding answers.
“An independent commission of inquiry must be established in order to ensure that all human rights violations committed in Tivoli last year do not go unpunished like so many others in Jamaica,” Amnesty’s Jamaica expert, Chiara Liguori, said.
The report also highlighted Jamaica’s past failures in addressing crime in inner-city neighborhoods.
“The reality is that for far too long, inner-city communities have been trapped between drug gangs and a state that ignores them,” Liguori said.
Read the Amnesty International report in its entirety here.