• Press Release

Six Police Officers Charged Over Killing of Matthew Lee in Jamaica

August 16, 2019

A Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) police officer stands guard in the Half Way Tree neighborhood in Kingston, Jamaica on May 18, 2019. - The JCF is the official police force of Jamaica. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
Reacting to the announcement that the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), Jamaica’s independent police oversight body, presented charges against six members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) following a six-and-a-half-year investigation into the fatal shooting of Matthew Lee, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

“We welcome the Independent Commission of Investigations’ continuous and determined efforts in investigating the killing of Matthew Lee. It is now in the hands of the Jamaican justice system to act effectively in the light of this case. The victim’s family’s dignified pursuit of justice is an example of how to dismantle a culture of fear that has allowed the police to get away with unlawful killings for decades.”

Matthew’s sister, Simone Grant, said: “It’s a small drop in the bucket for the family, as Matthew will never come back to us, but it’s a giant leap for the cause and we can only hope this will cause the police to think twice and be more responsible when carrying out their duties.”

Police killed Matthew on January 12, 2003 at approximately noon in Kingston’s affluent Arcadia community, when he was returning from a police station with two men, one of whom had gone there to fulfill a condition of his bail. Amnesty International documented Matthew’s case in 2016.

For decades, Jamaican communities, especially those in disenfranchised inner-city neighborhoods, have been scarred by an epidemic of unlawful killings by police. Amnesty International documented how the failure of the state to bring those suspected of criminal responsibility to justice have a profound and lasting impact on their loved ones. Their relatives, and in particular their women relatives, are left to face a long struggle for justice, as well as frequent intimidation and harassment by the police.