A woman who says she witnessed the murder of her babyfather almost a decade ago alleges that she and her 13-year-old daughter were taken off the witness protection programme after the case she testified in concluded.
Jane Brown* said that after witnessing the murder of her daughter’s father in 2008 in May Pen, Clarendon, she went into hiding for two years before coming forward to testify against a suspect.
“I gave evidence and he was sentenced. My daughter and I were placed on the programme. When we were placed on the programme, they told us that they would ensure that we were safe, and when the matter was finished, they would do a risk assessment and reintegrate us back into society,” she explained.
During the trial, Brown said that she and her daughter lived in a house that was rented under the witness protection programme until this year.
“In December, 2016, my case manager called me and said to me that my matter before the court is finished. She said I needed to find somewhere to rent that is cheaper because they are going to stop paying the rent,” she told us.
However, Brown said that she enquired about assistance and was told that if she could find a house to lease for 10 to 15 years, they would assist her.
After finding a house to lease, she said her plea for help was rejected.
However, with her daughter attending high school developing a malignant cyst in her breast and being laid off from her work, Brown explained that she found it difficult to come up with the rent money.
And after travelling to the United States earlier this year to have two surgeries done, with the help of persons at a church she attends, she returned to Jamaica and was evicted.
“When I came back, no rent had been paid, no utility bills. The landlord sent me a voice note that I need to get my things out of his house, and, if not, he is going to throw me out. I have been thrown out since September. Two persons from church put up my furniture, and a lady gave me a baby to look after, so when I am there with the child, my daughter can sleep there with me, but when I am not there, we have to find somewhere else to sleep,” she said.
Depressed by her living arrangements and the risks that her daughter might be exposed to, she said that she still wants somewhere to live.
“Mi nuh want them fi sexually assault mi child because of the decision wah mi mek,” she said.
Brown noted that she managed to get in contact with her parents, who were also forced to flee their home following the murder in 2008. They agreed to keep her daughter but she would have to change school. But that possibility has presented another hurdle, as she said that purchasing new uniforms would be difficult because she has no money.
WE reached out to the Ministry of National Security, under whose purview the witness protect programme falls, but up to press time there was no response to our email.
* Name changed