Wed | Oct 16, 2019

Devon Dick | Montague and his council of six

Published:Thursday | August 16, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Recently, Robert Montague, honourable minister of transport, lambasted a TVJ reporter. This could put her safety at risk. Instead she should be congratulated for excellent investigative journalism. She claimed that when Montague was minister of national security, he used his legal authority to revoke the review panel of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) decision to deny 'person A' a gun licence. She further discovered that the gun licence was denied because he was said to be a member of a notorious gang; engaged in lottery scamming, possible in possession of an illegal gun, etc. In addition, his character was defined as someone who would be a danger to himself and the community. Her research was thorough, painstaking and also balanced because she tried to get a comment from the ministry before going public. She deserves an award from the Press Association of Jamaica. Montague needs to apologise to her.

Then after the apology some more details. Apparently, Montague recognised that he had awesome powers to overrule the review panel of the FLA. Therefore, he established a wise council of six to ensure objectivity and advise him. In addition, he added another layer wherein it had to be unanimity; not even one dissenting voice. The Court of Appeal has three judges so Montague went beyond the call of duty by having six.

However, it would have been better if the chairman of Montague's committee had come out in defence of Montague rather than Montague. Montague needs to tell us the names of the six members, who the chair person was; the terms of reference, the duration of the appointment, the honorarium paid to these six persons and the skill set of the six persons. Furthermore, they should release the rationale for the decisions to usurp the FLA.




Most murders are committed with use of the gun, therefore, the granting of a gun licence should be after great scrutiny. One gun can do much damage, not to mention 28 guns. Therefore, if there is even the appearance of evil then that person should not be granted a gun licence. In fact, the law should change to allow the minister of national security to revoke the granting of gun licence only and nothing to do with granting of a gun licence.

Why Montague would not trust the findings of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and what investigative ability his panel would have that the JCF does not possess? Furthermore, if his committee can do a better job than the JCF then the country is in trouble. In fact, this panel should be heading up the investigative arm of the JCF. In any case, the benefit of the doubt should still go to the JCF and not his panel of six. Did the minister and his panel really go against the JCF 29 in two years? The implications are frightening.

Furthermore, why did the review panel of FLA not resign since there were 29 reversals? Either the panel is incompetent and/or corrupt or some else is corrupt. The nation needs to hear who are on this FLA panel and they need to defend their performance and integrity.

The JCF has some explaining to do. How come so much information on this person and the JCF could not turn it into evidence?

These are very serious allegations which cannot be dismissed by attacking a reporter. Ideally, there should be an audit of all 29 cases by the FLA review panel, but since Minister Montage has compromised its findings then there is no option than to have a commission of enquiry.

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