Tue | Oct 24, 2017

Two persons shortlisted for political ombudsman

Published:Thursday | September 24, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton
Phillip Paulwell

At least two persons have been shortlisted for the job of political ombudsman, but it is likely that the person who next occupies the office will not be given a seven-year tenure.

Phillip Paulwell, minister with responsibility for electoral matters, told The Gleaner yesterday that consultations are now taking place about the shortlisted candidates as well as the possibility of amending the relevant laws to shorten the tenure of the political ombudsman.

He said the "consultations are talking place during the course of this week between the political parties on the proposed

shortlist".

Former Political Ombudsman Bishop Herro Blair demitted office in June 2013 amid parliamentary deliberations on whether the office is relevant.

"The law does say that the person must be appointed for seven years, but there is a concern that the role is not really prominent and functional apart from the six-month period to an election campaign. It is something that I am grappling with and I think we might very well have to amend the law to accommodate a period that is much shorter, that will take into account the fact that the role is not active apart from these periods of campaigns," Paulwell said.

APPOINTMENTPERIOD

Under the law, the political ombudsman holds office for a period of seven years initially, and may, at the expiration of such period, be reappointed for a period of five years.

"Before I speak definitively about the amendments, I want to do the consultations. We, are doing the consultations in relation to that as well, but everything we want to have in place before [the election]," Paulwell said.

The political ombudsman is empowered by law to investigate any action taken by a political party, its members or supporters, where he is of the opinion that such action constitutes or is likely to constitute a breach of any agreement, code or arrangement for the time being in force between or among political parties in Jamaica.

The political ombudsman's role also extends to doing an investigation if he believes something is likely to prejudice good relations between the supporters of various political parties.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com