Thu | Oct 19, 2017

PSOJ laments overseas justice for local matters

Published:Monday | May 29, 2017 | 12:00 AMJovan Johnson

The shame of seeing foreign countries successfully prosecute cases linked to Jamaica without any similar success here over the years should have pushed local authorities to fix the justice system, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) has argued.

Yesterday, anti-corruption campaigner Trevor Munroe used two examples to highlight his argument that despite the Government admitting that corruption of elected and public officials is a "clear and present danger" to national security, there continues to be little to no prosecution locally.

He pointed to David Smith, who was convicted in the United States and The Turks and Caicos Islands for his role in the Olint Ponzi scheme, and Joseph Hibbert, the deceased former legislator, who was accused of taking bribes from Mabey and Johnson, a company that pleaded guilty in the UK.

Dennis Chung, the chief executive officer of the PSOJ, said that the issues show continued lack of sufficient investments in the justice system. The recent case of Carlos Hill, he added, was the latest reminder.

"The justice system is just inefficient. It takes too long. If a case is going to take nine years to come to trial, the probability of finding the witnesses that are needed, the probability of evidence not being preserved properly is always higher," he said. "We are still at a point where judges are taking notes in long hand. It is ridiculous."

 

Change DPP's powers

 

He added: "The success that we've had in the lottery scamming. If it wasn't for the United States, we wouldn't be resolving that issue now. A lot of our drug issues, we have not been able to deal with. We've had to go overseas to get our justice."

Munroe has called for changes to the constitutional powers of the director of public prosecutions (DPP) to unfetter a proposed director of corruption prosecutions in going after corruption cases.

But DPP Paula Llewellyn has criticised him, saying that reducing her powers would not change the rules about the cases that can go before the courts.

"Many times, we focus on the police and the DPP because they are visible, but they are really as effective as the system that backs them up," Chung asserted.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com