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LETTER OF THE DAY - Conflict of interest in Coke extradition affair

Published:Friday | March 19, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

The much-publicised extradition case which occupies the minds of Jamaicans, both at home and in the diaspora, has given the church community in Mandeville more than enough reasons to express deep concern. This concern is grounded in four factors. The first is that Jamaica's international reputation is being seriously damaged by the way this case is being handled, both by the Jamaican and American governments.

The second is that many Jamaicans have a sense that the resolute stance of the Jamaican political directorate is perhaps not a genuine defence of the human rights of a Jamaican citizen, but rather an expedient move influenced by the power of underground political forces.

The third factor that gives rise to the fraternal's concern is that this stance of our prime minister may do much to support the widely held view that our political parties have formed unhealthy alliances with the criminal underworld. The fourth cause for concern is that there appears to be an obvious conflict of interest involved in this case. Christopher Coke is known to be a very influential figure in the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), and with the prime minister being his member of parliament and a prominent JLP senator his lawyer, the conflict of interest is glaring. It is our view that their deep involvement in the case and their public pronouncements will affect, if not the delivery of justice, certainly the appearance of justice being done.

Righteousness demands that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. Righteousness also demands that where there is a conflict of interest, those in whom that conflict seems to exist should excuse themselves from the decision-making process.

The leaders and members of the Mandeville Ministers Fraternal implore the prime minister to step aside and yield to the wisdom and expertise of the judiciary of the country to settle the legal matters that are at the heart of the controversies surrounding this case. The right thing to do is to allow the court or any other legally authorised body to play its role, so that justice may be seen to be done in an impartial and unbiased way. Only right actions done with the right motives can uplift a nation.

The principle of righteousness is a tried and tested one, which we hold up to the prime minister as the route to take in making any decision on this matter. Everything must be done to protect the moral fabric of this country, and we challenge the Government of Jamaica to do the right.

We are, etc.,

Rev Dr ROY NOTICE - Chairman

Rev EARL THAMES - Fraternal Spokesman

Mandeville Ministers Fraternal