‘Living like a dog’ - Witness protection participant wants back her life

September 21, 2020

In 2014, Janet Brown* witnessed the murder of her 19-year-old son. She subsequently started receiving death threats and grew fearful for her life. The woman was later sent into the witness protection programme by the Ministry of National Security and was relocated elsewhere in Jamaica. When she was released from the programme in 2017, there was no life to go back to, and the woman says she has been suffering since.

"Me was the evidence of everything, suh me did affi move. Me did a get threats pon me phone say if me nuh done the case and if me make people go prison, me a go dead. A me worse nightmare," Brown told THE STAR.

She, however, was unflinching and testified in court against the man who killed her son.

But Brown says she now leads a disengaging and meaningless life, away from everything and everyone she knew. "Me just deh all bout like a dog. They sent me away for three years and I am still here now."

"Me did a try fi help meself but because me strange in the area, so me just deh all bout like a dog. Now, me diabetic and meagre down like dog. Me have pressure and caah get money fi buy medication. Last time me affi go pharmacy and beg."

Brown said that after being discharged from the witness protection programme, she was taken in by a stranger, who saw her wandering on the streets.

Him put me out

"Me did a stay a one place with a man, and it's like him a look somebody and me nuh deh pon dat. Last week him put me out, and is a next lady affi take me in. Me nuh have nothing. Me used to work and have me things and now a dem things here me affi a go through. Not even a pot me have ... me nuh live nowhere," she said heartbrokenly.

Contacted by THE STAR, Public Defender Arlene Harrison-Henry said that witnesses who are placed in the protection programme usually have their own arrangements or terms for the period under which they are protected.

"Normally, they (Ministry of National Security) support them during the period of witness protection and sometimes they are encouraged to upgrade their educational standard and sometimes they are also given a lumpsum," she said.

"So, a lot depends on the arrangement at the time she was put in witness protection."

The public defender has also invited Brown to visit her and provide the necessary details, so an investigation could be done regarding the agreed terms of her protection.

When contacted by THE STAR, Dr Horace Chang, minister of national security, declined to comment on the matter, pointing to the highly confidential nature of the witness protection programme.

* Name changed to protect identity

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