Tue | Jun 2, 2020

Chuck: Difficult finding middle ground on abortion, buggery laws

Published:Wednesday | October 31, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska (left), head of the European Union Delegation to Jamaica, greets Delroy Chuck (right), minister of justice, at the Gaps in the Human Rights Response, under the Justice for all Programme forum, held at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in St Andrew on Tuesday. Also pictured is Dr Edward Greene, PANCAP special advisor.

Justice minister Delroy Chuck has pointed to serious difficulties in finding a middle ground on the controversial issues of abortion and the buggery law.

There are ongoing debates in various circles on the two issues, with arguments being presented on both sides of the fence.

The minister noted that there is a constant battle to make decisions that will ensure that the rights of all citizens are protected. He said having to chair a joint select committee on both issues, he has seen many groups present a number of arguments for and against.

"Certainly, the faith-based groups have come and urged us to ensure that the laws are even more strengthened against many of these rights. But as minister of justice, I try not to take sides, because I have to listen to both. "But we will have the faith-based groups who come to my office and plead with me to ensure that we not only keep the laws but that we, in fact, entrench the laws in the Constitution," he said.

Chuck was speaking at the Regional Meeting for Advancing Recommendations for Addressing Gaps in the Human Rights Response, under the Justice for All Programme held at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew on Tuesday.

"One visitor urged me to make sure that we put the abortion law in the Constitution so that there can be no abortion. That faith-based group emphasised to me that life begins from conception; not even a week, but from conception. Then another group comes and says, 'you need to change the law because a woman's body is hers, and there is freedom of choice'," he continued.

The minister also touched on the issue of the death penalty, noting that while he is against it, he has to make himself available to hear the views of those who support it.

"As justice minister, I try as best as possible to be even handed, even though both sides will say, 'Be an advocate for my cause'," he said.

"But certainly, in relation to the death penalty, my position is well known. From maybe 40 years ago, I came out totally against the death penalty. Here in Jamaica, I have said, as long as I am around, I'll fight any attempt to implement the death penalty. In truth, I don't see the death penalty being implemented any time in the near future. I hope in short order, we can remove it from the statute books, but it is a controversial matter."