It demands a stiff backbone to take tough, potentially unpopular decisions - if you believe them to be right - then bear the consequences. It is easier to pass the buck.
The latter is what it seems that Ms Paula Llewellyn, Jamaica's director of public prosecutions (DPP), has done in her decision against bringing criminal proceedings against the Cabinet for failing to comply with demands for documents from the Office of the Contractor General (OCG).
Instead, Ms Llewellyn pleads with the Office of the Cabinet to comply with the OCG's request. Further, she suggests that either the Attorney General's Department, the Cabinet or the OCG - or, perhaps, all of them - seek a declaration from the court on whether the "Cabinet of Jamaica has unfettered power to choose not to grant approval for the disclosure of documents (to the OCG) without providing reasons".
Ms Llewellyn does this having herself concluded that the Cabinet, through its secretary, had failed to meet all the specifications of the Contractor General Act in denying the OCG the requested documents; and further, being persuaded that there are limits to the power of the Cabinet to hold its documents secret.
"It is submitted that the cases discussed in this opinion are persuasive authority in our jurisdiction and provide a usual guide as to the possible approach the courts may consider should the issue of non-disclosure of Cabinet documents to the OCG fall to be considered by them," she said in a document issued last week.
It is this that she wants others to test.
This issue has its genesis in last year's move by Transport and Works Minister Omar Davies to appoint a committee of three highly respected Jamaicans to help him oversee initial contract negotiations for the completion/extension of the north-south link of Highway 2000 and the development of a trans-shipment hub at Gordon Cay. The OCG insisted not only that it has direct information on the deliberations of the independent committee, but requested of the Cabinet all documents relating to the projects - and others. The Government stalled.
This newspaper had concerns about the posture of the OCG with regard to the committee and its opinion of the nature of the potential agreements with the Chinese firm that would undertake the venture. But that's beside the point.
The fact is that the court sided with the OCG in its interpretation of the law. And critically, Ms Llewellyn sees a prima facie case "that the contractor general has been obstructed and hindered in the monitoring and investigative mandate with regard to these two projects".
It would seem to us that in the face of this prima facie breach, the DPP had a basis to act and a route to seek a declaration from the court of the extent of power of the Cabinet to hold documents secret. For it would merely require the taking of a preliminary point at the trial before the nitty-gritty of the criminal proceedings began.
It seems that Ms Llewellyn lacked the courage of her conviction.
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