Homeless people police trucked away to be returned to Montego Bay

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 27 Jul 1999 20:24:34 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  CNN World News - July 21, 1999


KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) -- Homeless people who were rounded up in the
tourist town of Montego Bay, trucked 50 miles (80 kilometers) away and
abandoned in a remote area will be returned, police said Wednesday.

    Police Commissioner Francis Forbes said officials were arranging
transportation and asking relief organizations to help take care of the
homeless people when they arrive in northern Montego Bay.

    The homeless people said Montego Bay police rounded up them up Thursday
and told them they would be given medication. Instead they were put into a
truck with their hands tied behind their backs and driven to a mined-out
area in Santa Cruz known as Dump Land, they said.

    "They left us on a lonely road and drove off," one of the men, Whitley
Findlater, said in a letter sent to news media.

    The removal was widely condemned by human rights groups and
organizations representing the mentally ill.

    Five police officers allegedly involved in the roundup were taken off
regular duty and assigned to desk jobs while the government investigates.

    The officers had been assigned to "anti-vending" duty aimed at ridding
tourist areas of hawkers and panhandlers who harass visitors. Tourism
officials have become increasingly worried about such "hasslers" after two
cruise lines pulled out of the northern town Ocho Rios and threatened to
leave Montego Bay as well.

    Lawmakers are considering a bill that would increase fines for
harassing tourists from a maximum Jamaican $526 to Jamaican $2,631) and a
year in jail.


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