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LETTER OF THE DAY - Fundamental issues of principle

Published:Tuesday | March 9, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor
, Sir:

The Dudus issue is not only about Christopher Coke. It is also about the proper interpretation of the Extradition Act. Yet it is not all about the Extradition Act. It is about United States' relations with Jamaica; but it also transcends United States policy and once again digs deep into the underbelly of party politics in Jamaica.

As I did when the Trafigura scandal broke, I raise once again the issue of transparency in the relations that political parties, elected representatives and government officials have with persons who are able to wield influence whether through their control of money and large corporations, their control of geographical and economics constituencies, or control of guns. I suggested then, as I do now, that what is needed to address crime, integrity in public office, local confidence in our governmental system - and I now add our nation's international reputation - is legislation that requires and absolutely guarantees disclosure by politicians, government officials and political parties of every source and item of funding, material support and links with the categories of persons I listed before. It is something which I think civil society must insist on and employ all means of legitimate persuasion to achieve.

As a lawyer I believe that there are certain powers relegated to the attorney general which in law she and she only is entitled to exercise. One of these powers is her authority to allow the extradition process to start and indeed, to bring it to an end. As a Jamaican I have no doubt that many who have hurried to criticise the attorney general are motivated by party politics, once again taking a free ride on the political bandwagon.

This is most unfortunate as the glitter of party alliances is once again blinding us to what lies below the surface of many social ills, including crime in our beloved country.

Another issue

Amazingly, in the midst of this national debate, another is arising: the reintroduction of so called anti-crime laws by which it is proposed to take away or limit fundamental constitutional rights. The People's National Party tried this with the Suppression of Crimes Act. It was criticised by the then Jamaica Labour Party in Opposition. It did not work. It entrenched bad policing, it helped to fester the escalated crime problems that now plague us.

So while we see with pellucid clarity the need to protect the rights of some (or dare I say one), we are prepared to throw out the protections now afforded to all by law and the Constitution.

What is needed is not new anti-crime laws. What is needed is an ethos whereby politicians declare and then rid themselves of affiliations that will forever cloud fundamental issues of principle from which all our citizens stand to benefit and which enhance national pride. What we need are laws and the respect for these laws which will ensure accountability from and insulate our leaders from undue influence from persons whether they be in Cherry Gardens, Liguanea or wherever else inside or outside of Jamaica.

I am, etc.,