Bring it on! - Llewellyn
"All I will say is, bring it on," was the bold declaration from Paula Llewellyn, director of public prosecutions (DPP), on Sunday night, making it abundantly clear she will not be daunted by criticisms in the execution of her duties.
"As a director of public prosecutions, sometimes the road gets real rocky. You have to make a lot of difficult decisions and, sometimes, decisions that people don't like. But if you cannot go through the fire, if your back is not broad, if you cannot be in the jungle of the lion and still give justice, then this is the wrong area for you," she told the Rotary Club of Kingston East and Port Royal's 17th installation banquet.
Llewellyn was alluding to the decision by Contractor General Dirk Harrison to go to court to get a reversal of her decision not to press charges against former Hanover Mayor Shernet Haughton, who was implicated in the award of some $3.7 million in contracts to relatives and close friends.
Her decision to not press charges has angered Harrison, who said such a decision should have been left to the courts, where he had gone to seek redress. However, Llewellyn, who is the first woman to hold the position, insists that she is up to the task at hand.
level of professionalism
"When I have to come up against colleagues outside of my department, members of the media, so-called commentators, including those who write about the DPP being the director of public profiling, it takes a level of professionalism and moral standing to be able to transcend all that negativity," she told the gathering at The Pegasus hotel, New Kingston.
Delivering the keynote address, she added, "I welcome and embrace criticisms because I do believe that we all live in a democracy where we must agree to disagree. I am mentally tough, confident and comfortable in my own skin." Llewellyn also commented on recent developments in the justice ministry which will see jurors in civil and criminal cases getting an increase in their daily stipend, with Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding having signed the relevant regulations. Persons serving as jurors will be paid J$2,000 per day, up from $500, throughout the duration of the trial.
The DPP said, "When I saw the report, I breathed a sigh of relief."
"It's a constant battle we face every day islandwide. I recall 117 cases listed for trial in the St Ann Circuit Court, several of those cases where you have multiple accused and only 22 jurors turned up and, in instances like these, it make things difficult," she said
"I understand the struggles, however, as the truth is, especially in our rural parishes, some persons truly cannot afford the bus fare, especially in situations where a case goes on for five weeks or more. For some persons, it's lethargy or apathy; for some, it's religious beliefs; and some people do not have any trust in the court system. I urge citizens, however, to give service above self," she urged.