DPP gives bye to delinquent politicians
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn has announced that her office would not prosecute candidates who contested the February 25 legislative election but failed to provide election expenditure reports (returns) by the April 6 designated date to the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ).
The DPP's decision has let 27 candidates off the hook from possible prosecution, including 17 who flouted the law, not filing any returns, and 10 who filed late up to April 15 when the matter was referred to her office by the EOJ. The DDP's decision may have spared the delinquent candidates a term of imprisonment of not less than three years and fines ranging from $20,000 to $80,000, and preclusion from holding office for up to seven years.
Instead, candidates were contacted, coerced and given time to make returns as it was the view of all that "... the primary objective of the legislation was to secure compliance from candidates with their statutory obligation to file returns. For this reason, it was agreed that it would be appropriate for correspondence to be sent from the ODPP to each candidate indicating that failure to file returns within one week of the date of the letter sent by the ODPP would result in the initiation of prosecution ... ."
The DPP said that instead of initiating prosecution of the delinquent politicians, her office assigned "two senior prosecutors to liaise with the EOJ in order to guide the gathering of further information, which would facilitate preparation for possible prosecution of candidates who had failed to comply with the relevant requirements".
The EOJ, according to the DPP, proposed that the 10 candidates who filed late should be given a warning instead of prosecution provided that submissions were within a week of the April 6 deadline because there was no record that the named candidates were repeat offenders.
Four days later, on April 19, the two senior prosecutors assigned liaised with the director of elections and the director of legal affairs.
"At that meeting, an updated list containing the names of ten candidates who had not yet filed returns was presented," the DPP's release said.
According to her, a detailed exchange took place regarding the relevant sections of ROPA (The Representation of the People Act), among other things, according to her release issued on Friday evening.
Quoting from the ROPA, Section 60 (1, 3, 4, 5, and 6) sub-section (1) says inter alia: "that within six weeks after election day, every election agent shall make an election return to the returning officer for the constituency in which he acted as an election agent.
(3) Every return made under this section shall contain a full statement of all money, securities, or equivalent of money received by the election agent from the candidate or from any other source in connection with the election."