US sanctions six Jamaicans

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media in Washington, D.C., U.S., 24 Nov. 24 2020. - Photo: Saul Loeb/Reuters

WASHINGTON – The United States State Department on Thursday announced sanctions against six Jamaicans for human rights violations.

Those six were among 17 people in China, El Salvador and Jamaica to be sanctioned by the US. 

The six Jamaicans were part of the controversial Reneto Adams-led Crime Management Unit that was criticised as a trigger-happy police squad that committed multiple extrajudicial killings.

The State Department revealed that the six – Adams, Devon Orlando Bernard, Patrick Anthony Coke, Shayne St Aubyn Lyons, Leford Gordon, and Roderick Anthony Collier – were targeted by Washington “for their involvement in gross violations in human rights in Jamaica”, citing the extrajudicial killings of four people on 7 May 2003.

The US anchored the sanctions to the Magnitsky Act, which authorises Washington to reprimand persons who had been suspected of committing human rights offences or acts of significant corruption.

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The legislation allows the Trump administration to freeze the assets of persons and their families and prevent them from travelling to the US.

“The United States values our close partnership with the Jamaican Government and people, and today’s actions underscore our support for human rights and our commitment to promoting accountability for perpetrators of human-rights violations in Jamaica and around the world,” the State Department said of the now-disbanded police unit.

“Human-rights abusers will have no refuge within our jurisdictions,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted in relation to the report.

The report cited the fatal shooting of four people by the crack team in the rural community of Kraal, Clarendon, as the trigger behind the action.

Forty-five-year-old Angella Richards, 38-year-old Ferris Lewena Thompson, Matthew James and a man known only as ‘Renegade’ were killed on Tuesday, 7 May 7 2003, according to police, during a shootout with members of the Crime Management Unit. Two illegal firearms – a Taurus 9mm pistol with six cartridges and a Winchester rifle with 14 rounds – were seized.

After several weeks of investigations in the aftermath of the killings, Adams and five rank-and-file members of the police force were charged with murder.

They were, however, acquitted in December 2005.

(Reuters and the Jamaica Gleaner contributed to this report.)

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