Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Gov't senator wants 'corrupt' politicians, power brokers jailed

Published:Saturday | June 24, 2017 | 12:00 AMJovan Johnson
Kerensia Morrison

Politicians are among the power brokers that Jamaicans need to see dragged to jail to remind citizens that the justice system does not recognise status

when punishing wrongdoers, Government Senator Kerensia Morrison has argued.

"Jamaicans believe that we are quick to lock up the man who steals the mangoes, but the man who cannot account for millions of dollars of hard-earned taxpayers' money walks free and is only accused of mismanagement, misappropriation and cost overrun," Morrison said during her contribution yesterday to the State of the Nation debate in the Upper House of Jamaica's Parliament.

According to her, Jamaicans will feel confident in the justice system when the penalty is "sure" regardless of money, power and connections.

"When they (Jamaicans) see the handcuff going on some power brokers in society, politicians and their friends, that is when they will be convinced that di ting get serious.

"When we look at the international world, high-profile businessmen, professional sportsmen and women, hip-hop and R&B moguls, politicians who have to resign, pay hefty fines or serve time when they commit a crime, we wonder if it can happen here," she added.

Morrison's comments come in the same week that outgoing United States Ambassador Luis Moreno and Contractor General Dirk Harrison lamented the lack of successful prosecutions of high-profile corruption cases.

"The best thing that we could see is that people be held accountable for doing inappropriate things, taking inappropriate money, fronting for or endorsing companies, projects, people that have adverse information found on them," he said in response to a Gleaner question at a function on Monday at Harrison's office.

According to him, Jamaica has "ways to go" in successfully prosecuting people who could "serve as an example" that the Government is serious about corruption. "I would like to see some high-profile cases come to fruition."

Greg Christie, a former contractor general, has said that since Independence, only three senior public officials have been convicted and jailed for corruption.

He said they were former Labour Minister J.A.G Smith and his permanent secretary, Probyn Aitken, who were locked up for fraud in the early 1990s. Former Resident Magistrate Norma Von Cork was jailed in April 2002.