Jamaican police officers to help improve investigative capabilities of St Kitts-Nevis police

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Retired Major General Stewart Saunders

By Caribbean News Now contributor

BASSETERRE, St Kitts — Two retired police officers from Jamaica have been brought in by the ministry of national security in St Kitts and Nevis to upgrade and enhance the investigative capabilities of the local police force.

With over 40 years of knowledge and experience in conducting investigations of violent crimes, retired Senior Superintendent Colin Pinnock will be attached to the Violent Crimes Unit and the Criminal Investigations Department, where he will serve as lead investigator and consultant on investigations involving major crimes.

Retired Detective Inspector Marcia Garrick comes to the Royal St Christopher and Nevis Police Force with 37 years of experience in investigating sexual offences and child abuse. She will be primarily assigned to the Special Victims Unit (SVU) as the lead investigator on matters of sexual offences.

In July last year, St Kitts and Nevis prime minister and minister of national security, Dr Timothy Harris also hired as national security advisor a former Jamaican Defence Force (JDF) officer alleged to have been involved in the Tivoli Gardens Massacre in which Jamaican security forces killed at least 73 people, mostly young men, in an operation in May 2010.

According to Harris at the time, retired Major General Stewart Saunders, possesses the necessary competencies to succeed.

However, left unexplained by Harris were the findings of a commission of inquiry set up in the aftermath of the so-called Tivoli Gardens Massacre in Kingston in 2010, which accused Saunders of dereliction of duty and incompetence.

According to a report on local radio in Jamaica in 2016, “The Commission of Inquiry Report on the Tivoli Gardens accused Major General Saunders of dereliction of duty and incompetence” and “would recommend that Saunders never again serve in internal security operations had he still been chief of staff of the Jamaica Defence Force.”

The 2010 Kingston unrest, also known locally as the Tivoli Incursion, was an armed conflict between the Shower Posse drug cartel and Jamaica’s military and police forces.

The violence killed at least 73 civilians and wounded at least 35 others. Four soldiers/police were also killed and more than 500 arrests were made, as Jamaican police and soldiers fought gunmen in the Tivoli Gardens district of Kingston.

According to activists in Jamaica, Saunders gave orders for the firing of 37 rounds of mortar into Tivoli Gardens and West Kingston, killing and maiming people, and burning buildings, in effect terrorizing and traumatizing residents, especially children. There was no military necessity to use mortar and Saunders in effect violated international law and violated Jamaica’s Terrorism Prevention Act.

A petition was circulated in Jamaica in 2015 demanding that the director of public prosecutions charge Saunders for terrorism under the Terrorism Prevention Act.

Leader of the opposition in St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Denzil Douglas, questioned at the time whether proper background checks were made by Harris.

“I am aware that a Commission of Inquiry was conducted into his performance in the Tivoli Gardens matter in Jamaica and what we understand that came out of the inquiry is that the individual must not be allowed in Jamaica to hold any public office. If he (Saunders) is not allowed to serve in public office in Jamaica, why is Prime Minister Harris bringing him here to St Kitts and Nevis?” Douglas asked.

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