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'Dudus' irks PSOJ

Published:Thursday | March 11, 2010 | 12:00 AM
West Kingston strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

Business honchos want Gov't to let courts settle extradition matter

Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter

THE NATION'S most powerful group of business leaders, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), has joined other associations and individuals in disagreeing with the Government's decision not to sign the extradition request for west Kingston strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

The PSOJ set tongues wagging islandwide yesterday as it came out with a position far removed from the stance of the Bruce Golding administration.

"This shows that the extradition issue is affecting the business community and reflects what many people have been saying: that the Government is mishandling the extradition request," Richard 'Dickie' Crawford told The Gleaner minutes after the PSOJ release was circulated.

Crawford said the PSOJ's statement argued that the questions surrounding the request from the United States for the extradition of Coke should be determined in a court of law.

The PSOJ said: "... We call on the Government to expeditiously take those steps necessary to allow the Jamaican courts to assess and determine the merits of any outstanding extradition requests by the United States, confident that our courts will have every regard for the rights of citizens, as enshrined in Jamaica's Constitution."

Fears implications

According to the PSOJ, it views with grave concern the content of the recently released US Narcotics Control Strategy Report and the implications it could have for the country.

The PSOJ said it had noted the statement made by Golding in Parliament on March 2 when he argued that the attorney general could not sign the extradition request because the procedures that were employed by the American authorities were abnormal.

In that presentation, Golding also argued that in one important respect - the interception of communication - the extradition request was found to be in violation of the Jamaican law, and rejected a call from the opposition People's National Party to have a court of law rule on the issue.

But the PSOJ yesterday sided with the Opposition.

"While we would not wish to comment on the veracity of the contentions made in the referenced report, or indeed, the prime minister's basis for the handling of the matter as set out in his statement to the Parliament, it seems to us that the proper forum for these matters to be dealt with in a transparent manner is in the courts of Jamaica.

"We believe there are sufficient safeguards available in Jamaican law and in our independent judiciary to protect the constitutional rights of all Jamaican citizens," the PSOJ added.

The private-sector group also noted: "Jamaica, being a part of the international community, acknowledges the transnational nature of crime and the need for a concerted global effort to eradicate crime and violence."

According to the PSOJ, Jamaica has demonstrated its commitment to fight criminality by signing the relevant international treaties and in enacting the necessary domestic legislation to facilitate cooperation.

"It is imperative that we continue to demonstrate our commitment by honouring our obligations under the treaties to which we are a party."