On 23 May 2010, the Governor-General of Jamaica declared a State of Public Emergency in
the parishes of Kingston and St Andrew. Within two days, at least 74 people, including one
member of the security forces, had been killed in Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston, scene of
much of the violence. At least 54 others, more than half of them members of the security
forces, were injured during police operations.
More than 40 of those killed in Tivoli Gardens are alleged to have been the victims of
extrajudicial execution by the security forces. Unlawful killings were also reported in other
operations conducted during the state of emergency. More than 4,000 people were detained
under emergency powers, without charge or trial or access to an effective means of
challenging the lawfulness of their detention before a court. Two people reportedly taken into
custody remain unaccounted for and may have been victims of enforced disappearance.
The May 2010 violence has been described as “the worst in Jamaican post-independence
history”. Despite the scale of the loss of life and compelling testimonies of grave human rights
violations – including possible extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and
arbitrary arrests – investigations into the violence have yet to establish the facts and the
responsibilities conclusively. Independent organizations and institutions in Jamaica continue
to call for a full public inquiry into the security forces operation. One year on, the demand for
justice by many survivors and victims’ families has yet to be answered.