Lloyd B sides with Andrew
WESTERN BUREAU: DEPUTY HOUSE Speaker Lloyd B. Smith, the outspoken Central St James member of parliament, has endorsed the call by Opposition leader Andrew Holness for the establishment of a commission of human rights to protect the rights of the Jamaican people against abuse.
Speaking on Sunday at the funeral of Mario Deane, who died from injuries he sustained while in custody at the Barnett Street Police Station for a ganja spliff, the usually forthright Smith, seemingly unconcerned about stepping away from the position of his party, the ruling People's National Party, said he was unapologetic in his pronouncement.
"I unapologetically agree with the Leader of the Opposition Mr Andrew Holness that we must have a human-rights commission in the country," said Smith. ".... but it cannot be another INDECOM or another this or that ... because often, as politicians, when we create these creatures of Parliament, they become subject to the machinations of politicians".
On a visit to Montego Bay in the aftermath of Deane's death, Holness said he wanted to see the establishment of a commission of human rights to take a proactive approach to protecting the rights of citizens.
"We are recommending a commission of human rights, which would be a proactive body that would follow trends in regards to the abuse of human rights and make recommendations to influence policy changes," Holness said.
At the time of Holness' call, Nancy Anderson, legal officer at the Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights, said the opposition leader should give more details as to how the commission would work.
Smith said he would want to see an independent body far removed from political influence and manipulation. "Any such commission must be independent and must be independently funded so it cannot be manipulated," said Smith. "Jamaicans' human rights are being infringed on daily ... Marcus Garvey and Sam Sharpe and all those we say are our heroes must be weeping in their graves to see what has happened in the country."
In what could be a swipe at some of the recent accomplishments being touted by his government, Smith made it clear that human rights should not be relegated to a second-fiddle position.
"It is not sufficient to talk about economic growth ... it is not sufficient to talk about the advances in education ... we must begin to talk about the advances in human rights in this country and this is where it must begin today."