by Cato Rand
It is interesting to see Jamaica’s first female Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Ms. Paula Llewellyn trying to defend recent actions by her ofﬁce. As I mentioned in my first post on Justice, Jamaican Style, listening to Ms. Llewelyn does not engender much conﬁdence in her ability to successfully execute her remit. She strikes me as someone who is committed to her craft. But is she as sharp of mind as one would expect from the countryʼs foremost prosecutor? I guess the jury is still out on that.
Ms. Llewellyn never fails to emphasize that she can only prosecute based on the evidence she has – she cannot make blood out of stone – and this certainly brings into sharp focus the lack of resources that burdens our police force. I do however think that the problems in our justice system go much deeper than this. As a society we do not take a scientific approach to problems that confront us. We seem unable to properly grasp the concept of cause and effect; and too often our thoughts and actions seem to be informed by magical thinking. So I guess we should not be surprised at the approach of our investigators.
Sad to say, but our culture is not an intellectual one – read our newspapers or listen to the daily current affairs programmes on radio. Even our academicians leave a lot to be desired. I guess Jamaica has not experienced its ‘Enlightenment’ as yet.
Our Constitution makes it next to impossible to remove the DPP from ofﬁce but for inﬁrmity of mind or body. In other words, an incompetent DPP can remain for decades or even centuries if life expectancy so allows. The framers of the Jamaican Constitution in their attempts to lessen political interference made it such that once appointed, the DPP cannot be easily removed.
See Jamaica Constitution Chapter VI: Executive Powers
Section 94 (6): “In the exercise of the powers conferred upon him by this section, the Director of Public Prosecutions shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.”
Section 96 (4): “The Director of Public Prosecutions may be removed from office only for inability to discharge the functions of his office (whether arising from infirmity of body or min or any other cause) or for misbehaviour and shall not be so remove except in accordance with the provisions of this section.”
Outside of this, other sections outline that a tribunal must be constituted by the Governor General to remove the DPP.
I do not support the principle that any person working on behalf of our people is beyond the reach of the electorate. The elected government of the day puts its record of performance up for review every 5 or so years. That in effect is what a general election is. We may not agree with the collective decision of our voters following an election but the principle is, once elected you cannot believe that you are now so ensconced for life.
I am not proposing that the choosing of the DPP be a popularity contest, but there must be some mechanism in place so that the performance of the DPP is subject to regular review; and the holder of the ofﬁce can be removed if his/her standard of work is found to be below par. My colleague asked for her to be removed in a post two weeks ago. Two lawyers asked the same two Sunday’s ago (here and here).
It is indeed surprising that our justice system is in the poor state that it is in, considering the number of our parliamentarians that are and have been lawyers. One would have thought that these politicians being members of the legal profession would have ensured that our justice system is functioning as that of a modern, civilized society in the 21st century.
I must express my opposition to the proposal to sentence persons convicted of being lotto scammers, to as much as 25 years in prison. A salient feature of justice I would proffer, is that there should be proportionality. If we are sentencing rapists and murderers to 8 and 15 years in prison how can we justify locking away someone convicted of scamming for 25 years?
I think this is just a big show being put on by the government, to repair the “Jamaica Brand” and to appease international media and foreign law enforcement officials after the exposé by journalist Dan Rather on the CBS news programme, 60 Minutes (See 3 short clips here: Part one, two, three); as well as the Today Show’s feature on the Jamaican lotto scammers to demonstrate that we are going hard after the perpetrators, defrauding Americans.
More Extrajudicial Killings
So another week has gone by and you guessed it – another 4 of our citizens have been killed by the police. I guess it only follows that for the police to maintain their annual average of 250-300 killings then there should be almost 1 police killing per day. As usual the version of events surrounding these killings as stated by the police is diametrically opposed to that articulated by citizens.
Of concern to me is the lack of outrage by the society at these extrajudicial killings. I guess by now we have been numbed into apathy after so many killings over the years. I wonder, would this have been the attitude if we were still being ruled by the “wicked white man”; with the local police accounting for hundreds of deaths per year? Our thought leaders would have been baying racism! There would have been regular organized island-wide mass protests in the streets by now, had this been the status quo under colonial rule. But it would seem as if it is not much of a bother for a country in which the far majority of our leadership is of African ancestry.
With the Nobel Prize for Peace increasingly seeming to be a solution in search of a problem, let me join fellow writer Kavon with his 2010 request via the Jamaica Observer, in asking for a nomination for Dr. Carolyn Gomes and Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) to make the short list for this still prestigious award in the near future. If a lady in Kenya whose claim to fame was planting trees can win this award, why not Dr Gomes and JFJ?
JFJ is the only group consistently speaking out, for over a decade, against the abuse of state power in the murder of the common man (woman and child) in Jamaica. It’s time to give them their due.
Cato Rand is a Black Jamaican of Libertarian and Conservative persuasion. He is a fervent believer in Capitalism, Freedom and the principles outlined by the US Constitution and it being applicable to all peoples, including Jamaicans. He is a strong advocate for the limited role that a government should play in the lives of people.