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Inbox Investigation fires shot across the bows of trigger-happy police Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world, more than ten times that of the UK Jamaica is taking advice from a former Scotland Yard detective to help reduce the number of its citizens killed by police each year. Fatal shootings committed by Jamaican law enforcement officers saw the deaths of 13 people in the first 13 days of 2014. The government of Jamaica set up the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) in 2010 in response to claims about violence meted out by the county’s police forces. New assistant commissioner of INDECOM Hamish Campbell, former head of homicide at London’s Scotland Yard, has moved to the island to try to help reduce the death rate. “There is a widespread belief that the police are killing people who can’t otherwise get to the courts,” Campbell told Britain’s Daily Mail. “The courts have huge backlogs. Trials are years and years behind. Some cases are dismissed by the courts because the police evidence is simply not up to scratch.” He added that it was “completely unacceptable and inappropriate” for the police to undertake extra-judicial killings in an attempt to cleanse the streets of criminals. Police claim that they are reacting to powerful gangs that have taken over neglected inner-city areas. Gangs and guns are rife on the island, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world. “Around 1,100 people were murdered in Jamaica population three million last year,” said Campbell. “I can put that into context by saying that across the whole of London population 8.3 million there were 100 murders in the year before I left.” Witnesses to police shootings say that many of the victims were killed in unprovoked attacks. When 19-year-old Tevin Davis was gunned down in Kingston on 6 February, witnesses were urged to come forward. Steve McGregor, head of the Kingston Western Police Division, said that Davis was killed during an alleged confrontation with the police. However, several observers have claimed that Davis was shot while relieving himself near a gully in the area. In January two informers told a Jamaican newspaper that senior officers arranged shootings at pre-operation briefings and assigned illegal guns to place on the bodies. The high number of police shootings are in stark contrast to that of the UK, where the 2011 shooting of Mark Duggan by Metropolitan police sparked nationwide riots and an inquest. Robots step in to control Congo traffic Sam Grant Traffic lights are commonly known as ‘robots’ in parts of Africa. But in the Democratic Republic of Congo, traffic regulators have gone one step further and are using actual robots to control the flow of vehicles in the cities of Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. The concept’s creators are from an association called Women’s Technology – they hope to sell the design to other African countries and even to the USA and Europe. Women’s Technology’s president Therese Ir Izay Kirongozi said that, though robots had been developed for many purposes in other countries, the concept of using them to control traffic was “truly made in Congo”. The robots, which cost US$15,000 each, are solar powered and made from aluminium to withstand the city’s high temperatures. They are also equipped with cameras to film motorists who commit traffic offences, though, as yet, the information has not been used in prosecutions. Kinshasa taxi driver Franck Mavuzi told Agence France-Presse: “The robot is good. When it stops the traffic, you can see that everybody stops and pedestrians can cross without a problem. Thank God for those who invented it! The traffic police bother us too much – let’s leave robots to do the job.” l In February, the city of Goma in DRC was host to a music festival with the theme ‘singing for peace’. The event had been postponed from 2013 due to conflicts in the area between governments and rebel forces. global second quar ter 2014 www.global -br ief ing.org l 5


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