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Let 'Dudus' have his day in court - Part 2

Published:Thursday | March 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM

On October 15 last year, I wrote the article 'Let 'Dudus' have his day in court', in which I argued that for the good of the country and also for the good of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, it was advisable to allow the case to be tested in our Jamaican courts to determine whether there is a case to answer. Unfortunately, I have to repeat the advice to the Bruce Golding government.

The situation with which we are being faced didn't have to be if my advice was followed. It didn't have to come to this. Now as yesterday's editorial warned, not for the first time, that Jamaica is in danger of being declared a rogue state. Now the United States (US) government is saying that there are unprecedented delays (we are obstructing justice), unexplained disclosure of law-enforcement information (we cannot be trusted to be confidential) and unfounded allegations questioning US compliance with the mutual Legal Assistance (we are not being truthful). And this is couched in diplomatic language.

An enormous crisis

What if the US talks plainly to Canada and Britain about what they really think of us? Jamaica faces an enormous crisis with the Obama administration. Make no mistake, these most serious and damaging allegations will put Jamaica in an economic tailspin!

Unfortunately, the prime minister's defence of Christopher Coke is unnecessary, unhelpful and unbecoming. The point is not about suffering the political consequences but whether it is justified for a whole country to suffer economically because of the PM's handling of this issue. The PM says the information obtained by US authorities violated Jamaican law. However, the PM cannot usurp the authority of the judiciary. Let the resident magistrate determine that. The PM and Parliament make laws. They do not interpret law and pronounce what is illegal. This is a dangerous precedent of the PM becoming the judge.

Furthermore, the PM states that he is defending the constitutional rights of Dudus, a Jamaican citizen. Again the PM is not a constitutional lawyer. If Dudus' or anybody's constitutional rights are violated, then the citizen can hire a lawyer and plead the case in court. My information is that Dudus has successful businesses and can afford the best lawyers money can buy, so allow the case to go to court to determine whether his constitutional rights are being violated.

Questions, questions

And if I were in Dudus' shoes, and his case is as strong as the PM makes it out, then I would want my day in court because the resident magistrate would throw out the case. That would be a good resolution for Dudus, Golding and, more important, the country. Furthermore, how does the prime minister know that Dudus would not rather his case go before the resident magistrate and be thrown out? What is the solicitor general and the DPP saying on this matter?

The role of the political directorate is to ensure that proper procedure is followed in this extradition treaty case. The treaty states that for the request to be valid, a crime has to be committed in US and the US has to support its allegations to Jamaica but at a lower level than what it needs to convict. Then after the attorney general has signed the order it can be executed. The defendant can then challenge it in a Jamaican court and if Dudus proves that there is no
prima facie
case, then the order for extradition cannot be implemented. Furthermore, even after the resident magistrate has ruled that there is a
prima facie
case, Ms Lightbourne can refuse to sign the order based on perceived racial discrimination or political victimisation.

So, the PM must stop playing judge and lawyer and let Dudus have his day in court!

Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church and author of 'Rebellion to Riot: The Church in Nation Building'. Feedback may be sent to