Wed | Jan 26, 2022

Fire the attorney general

Published:Tuesday | April 16, 2019 | 12:00 AM


Letter writer Mickel Hylton once described Marlene Malahoo Forte, MP, QC, JP, as “the quasi-attorney general (AG) who is playing politics with the rights and freedoms that our Constitution affords us as Jamaicans” (The Gleaner, June 27, 2017). This was in response to her statement to “abrogate, infringe and abridge [our rights]”.

Section 79 of the Jamaican Constitution describes the role of the AG as “the principal legal adviser of the Government”. As such, the appointment, although political, is also PROFESSIONAL, whereby the AG “should not be influenced by political considerations in giving legal opinions”.

The attorney general has continued to fail in at least three of the five divisions that come under her oversight. These are litigation, general legal advice, and the constitutional and legislative functions.

The AG has consistently failed in her responsibilities, among them advising the Government on the constitutionality of the zones of special operations, and she caused both the then permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Sancia Bennett Templer, and the prime minister to be misled in Parliament about making public the non-disclosure compensation package to a former Petrojam employee.

Now the AG has caused embarrassment to the Government and our head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, and her representative, their excellencies, who signed the National Identification and Registration Act that establishes the controversial National Identification and Data Systems, which was struck down as “unconstitutional” when “Chief Justice Bryan Sykes declared the court had decided that the legislation had no legal effect and is to be removed from the statutes of Jamaica”.

As the AG, Mrs Malahoo Forte functions as head of the Bar, with specific responsibility for proper regulation of the legal profession in Jamaica and the delivery of legal education across the Caribbean. One now questions her impartiality and intellectual honesty in the execution of such duties.With her failure to be guardian of the public interest as set forth in the Constitution, the prime minister should fire her as she lacks the integrity to uphold the laws of Jamaica and is therefore a poor role model to be ‘head of the Bar’!