By Sovereign Hager
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
KINGSTON, Jamaica-Seventy-three people have reportedly been killed and five hundred arrested during Jamaican police efforts to capture Christopher “Dudus” Coke. Coke is a well known leader in the Kingston slums, who is wanted by the United States on drug trafficking charges. Authorities intend to extradite Coke to the United States.
Amnesty International called for a thorough investigation into the violence and deaths. The rights group recognized that while authorities have a responsibility to ensure order, the current extraordinary powers exerted by the Jamaican security forces could lead to human rights violations.
A state of emergency has been declared in parts of Kingston. Amnesty pointed out that even in officially declared states of emergency, international law requires Jamaica to guarantee the rights of those detained, including having their detention reviewed by an independent tribunal. Over five hundred people have been detained in the search for Coke. The circumstances of the seventy three deaths have not been explained by authorities.
The Jamaican prime minister, Bruch Golding has not yet visited his constituents in the affected area. Residents complain about arbitrary arrests and say that they do not feel safe. Coke and other slum leaders, known as “dons” are thought to occupy a void created by a lack of government services in Jamaica’s slums. There is already speculation that the government will not be able to occupy the void in authority after the dons are officially deposed.
Up to this point Jamaican slums have operated under an arrangement where politicians and dons share power. The dons provide security through extortion and control of the drug trade. They then channel some resources through the neighborhoods to build support for certain political leaders by ensuring the loyalty of their voters.
Coke is accused with trafficking cocaine and marijuana into the United States’ East Coast, allegedly causing “gangland” conflicts that have killed thousands. The government has asked at least ten other dons, like Coke to surrender in efforts to combat gang violence.
For more information, please see:
AFP-Drug Suspect Still in Jamaica: Police Chief-31 May 2010
NY Times-Jamaica Strains to Fill Void After Ejecting Gang Bosses-31 May 2010
Voice of America-Unrest Death Toll Reaches 73-31 May 2010