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Don't neuter INDECOM - Chuck

Published:Friday | June 12, 2015 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Terrence Williams

Member of Parliament for North East St Andrew, Delroy Chuck, says he will not support the establishment of an oversight body for the Independent Commission of Investigation (INDECOM) that will neuter the commission of Parliament.

At the same time, head of INDECOM, Terrence Williams, said many of the parties calling for further oversight for the investigative and prosecutorial body seem to have missed the fact that there is currently a raft of oversight for his organisation.

Chuck who was speaking yesterday in Gordon House during deliberations of a joint-select committee of Parliament, examining the INDECOM Act, said INDECOM was set up because of constant complaints by Jamaicans that the Police Public Complaints Authority and the Bureau of Special Investigations were not effective in probing alleged extrajudicial killings.

"I would hate to think that what could be proposed is that before you investigate or prosecute, this oversight (body) has to give approval. I could never support something like that," he stressed.

 

Judicial authority

 

The INDECOM boss said when the oversight body charges a police for criminal conduct, it requires judicial authority to lay the charge and the director of public prosecutions has to review the charge and could enter a nolle prosequi at the end of the charge or take over a case that INDECOM has taken to court.

In addition, he said the Office of the Public Defender has oversight for all government agencies including INDECOM.

Williams argued that Judicial review is an important means of oversight and brings with it finality and the ability to compel a party to act in a certain way.

He said there was also parliamentary oversight, even though the legislature cannot strike down decisions of INDECOM.

However, Williams suggested to parliamentarians that if an oversight body was to be set up for INDECOM, its role should be expanded to cover all commissions of Parliament.

National Security Minister Peter Bunting argued that there was a danger in having the concentration of power in one individual who has the right to deprive others of their liberty. "It's an awesome power, especially if they are doing both the investigation and prosecution," he added.

"I find it difficult to imagine why someone would object to having a corporate governance mechanism in place (for INDECOM)," said Bunting.

Committee member Senator Lambert Brown castigated the legislature, which he said had not used the parliamentary oversight process in the case of INDECOM.