Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Public Defender's Office complains about lack of cooperation

Published:Thursday | July 21, 2016 | 7:39 AM

The Office of the Public Defender is calling for a review of the Public Defender Act to allow sanctions to be laid against government entities that refuse to help the office with investigations.

The Office of the Public Defender is responsible for investigating complaints made by persons who believe they have been wronged by agents of the state.

During a presentation to a Parliamentary Committee yesterday, Deputy Public Defender Herbert McKenzie said the Public defender's office receives complaints about most statutory bodies in Jamaica.

However, McKenzie says the Public Defender's Office often waits several months for these agencies to respond to complaints lodged against them.

McKenzie says many times the government agencies respond after they are served with summonses by the Public Defender's Office.

He says representatives of these agencies are often still reluctant to respond to complaints even after being summoned.

McKenzie says the problem could be solved if the Public Defender's Office had the power to sanction agencies that are not compliant.

 

McKenzie says he doesn't believe the government agencies are deliberately trying to frustrate the office of the Public Defender when they refuse to answer to complaints.

He says he believes people simply refuse to comply because there are no sanctions for non-compliance.

Meanwhile, McKenzie says the Public Defender's Office is facing challenges because it is not allowed to investigate complaints against the Jamaica Defence Force.

He says the office will be making a submission to Parliament for this to be included in the Public Defender Act.

 

Deputy Public Defender, Herbert McKenzie