After more than six (6) months, the Advocates Network is registering its deep disquiet and disappointment at the lack of information and delays in the investigation of the alleged cutting of the locks of Nzinga King in July 2021. The Network is also raising its voice to demand respect and fair access to justice for Ms King, whose rights as a woman and a Rastafarian appear to have been infringed during this traumatic incident.
Ms King was arrested on June 29 for not wearing a mask in accordance with COVID-19 protocols and was charged for disorderly conduct. She was unable to pay the fine and was committed to ten days in police custody. This was when the cutting of her locks – a source of pride for all Rastafarians – took place, allegedly by a woman police officer at Four Paths Police Station in Clarendon. She is now scheduled to appear at the May Pen Court House on February 3 on a charge of violating the DRMA, yet the matter of the alleged abuse of her own rights by a police officer has not yet been addressed.
Following public outrage, media coverage and protests by members of the Rastafarian community, as well as our own advocacy since August 2, 2021, including a meeting with the Commissioner of Police, an investigation was undertaken initially by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), then later by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM). The Office of the Public Defender also started an investigation. However, the outcome of these probes have not been made public, and INDECOM, having completed its investigations, handed the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions in December 2021.
The Advocates Network anxiously awaits the results of the investigation into the reported human rights abuses committed at the police station – more than six months ago. Ms King is symbolic of the “have nots” in Jamaica who continue to be neglected and whose human rights are so often disregarded and abused.
The Advocates Network is an unincorporated, non-partisan alliance of individuals and organizations advocating for human rights and good governance to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people of Jamaica and to transform lives. Our core objective is to forge an effective, broad-based collaboration of individuals and civil society organizations to support human rights and good governance issues.