Sat | Jan 23, 2021

Chuck apologises

Published:Saturday | June 27, 2020 | 12:00 AM

Public backlash over his reaction to and subsequent comment about the time period in which complaints of sexual harassment should be made, has elicited an apology from Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck. 

The minister had chuckled before he made the comment during a sitting of the Joint Select Committee considering the Sexual Harassment Bill earlier this week, suggesting that there should be a limit on the time period during which complaints can be made. 

A statement issued on behalf of the minister said he "unreservedly apologised", and pointed out that he displayed "lack of sensitivity" in his reaction to the issue.  

“When I queried what time limit would be appropriate, I made remarks about the #METOO Movement. I unreservedly apologise to anyone who found my remarks inappropriate, as I never intended to disrespect the #METOO Movement or to diminish the seriousness of the emotional trauma caused by sexual harassment, but on reflection I understand the concerns raised by members of the public,” the release quoted the minister. 

The statement said Chuck fully recognised the courage and strength of victims of sexual harassment who speak out against offenders.

"...in fact, in his other contributions to the discussion he encouraged women to report and bring criminal charges against men who touch them without invitation," the statement defended him. 

It continued: "In the same committee meeting, Minister Chuck lamented that he is pained by the crudeness and brutish behaviour meted out to women regularly in communities across Jamaica. He says respect for women, treating them with dignity and civility are critical."

Several people have taken to social media to criticise the minister, who is now trending on Twitter. 

Attorney-general, Marlene Malahoo Forte, this morning, also backtracked on her initial response to criticisms of Chuck's reaction, noting that his response to the issue was, in fact, wrong. 

"Yesterday I posted a response to concerns raised about @Delroychuckjm
laughing at a point of a presentation. At the time I thought complaint related to something done in his sectoral presentation. I responded against backdrop of comments made about my appearance on All Angles," Malahoo Forte tweeted. 

"I have since seen actual clip of segment of presentation about which concerns were raised and for which @Delroychuckjm has issued an apology. Approach taken by him was unfortunate and wrong. I will discuss with the minister as precursor to a public discussion of the matter," she said. 

Media personality, Terri-Karelle Reid also criticised Chuck's reaction. She called him "an embarrassment to any office." 

This is the second time, since late last year, that Chuck has had to publicly apologise for inappropriate comments. He was forced to apologise last year over comments he made about the early morning raid that led to the arrest of Ruel Reid, the former education minister, and former president of the Caribbean Maritime University, Dr. Fritz Pinnock among others, over corruption allegations.  

In 2017, he also had to apologise to the staff of the Divorce Unit of the Supreme Court after accusing them of corruption.  

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us @onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.