Fri | Nov 17, 2017

'Don't expose PM to failure'

Published:Wednesday | June 28, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Marlene Malahoo Forte

Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte has defended the decision of Prime Minister Andrew Holness to put the force of his office behind the Zones of Special Operations Bill that was crafted to cramp spiralling crime that has left Jamaica bleeding.

Yesterday, Carl Marsh, a Jamaican with experience in criminal justice and planning, argued that the empowerment of the prime minister in council to declare an area a zone of special operations might put the office holder in political jeopardy in the event the policy failed.

"If your prime minister fails on this, who is next? What happens? How do you expose the chief executive of the country?" Marsh asked during his submission to a joint select committee of Parliament examining the bill.

He said that the minister of national security should have been listed in the legislation and should be responsible for declaring zones of special operations.

"I have a problem with the role of the prime minister; the minister of national security should own this baby because it deals with law and order," he added.

According to Marsh, there is an accepted view that "you should not put the chief executive in a situation where they could fail".

However, Malahoo Forte said that the prime minister

is the minister of defence, and the law reform component of the bill brings the joint operation of the army and the police together, noting, "that is why it is the prime minister's bill".

'PM must be called into action'

The prime minister, like any other minister, must be called into action, declares Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte.

"You want the prime minister to be taken out of it [power to declare an area a zone of special operations] because he is likely to fail; because he is likely to be held responsible; he's being called into action, and the 'primest' of them is the first among equals."

Carl Marsh, however, insisted that taking executive actions to declare areas zones of special operations, the prime minister will become saddled with ordinary crime-fighting duties.

Deliberations on the bill ended yesterday, amid protestations by the parliamentary Opposition that the approach taken by the Government to pass the law was a "charade".

The bill is expected to be debated in Parliament today after being tabled in the House of Representatives yesterday.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com