Sun | Jul 21, 2019

Opposition Senators against minister giving instructions to MOCA

Published:Saturday | March 17, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Staff Reporter

Opposition senators objected to a proposed role of the national security minister in the bill to establish the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) as an independent body during yesterday's sitting of the Upper House. Clause 9, sub-clause 3 of the act states that the minister of national security may instruct MOCA's director general to provide specified assistance to a law-enforcement agency after consultation. It then forces the director general to take reasonable steps to comply.

"In developing the statute, one has to understand that contemplation must be given to ministers who exceed their authority or abuse their authority. That's why in many bills, there is redress for abuse or excess," said K.D. Knight.

Senator Floyd Morris added that MOCA should have a sense of autonomy. He said: "I cringe at the thought of having this sort of reference to have the minister giving direction to the director general of the agency. I really am fearful of it, Mr Chairman, and I think that it should be deleted."

Government Senator Pearnel Charles Jr defended the clause, stating that senators should not approach the legislation with the mindset that the minister is malicious while other stakeholders have good intentions.

Charles Jr explained: "That (clause) does not impede on the operational independence in any way. It doesn't impede on the director general. What it does is, it protects. It creates the balance required between that operational independence and the policy oversight. There must be a balance."

brian.walker@gleanerjm.com