Tue | Jun 6, 2023

Golding vs Golding

Published:Thursday | April 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Honourable Bruce Golding has instructed the minister of justice "to seek a declaration from the courts of Jamaica ... as to whether the minister has (a) the authority and (b) the obligation to consider breaches of our laws and breaches which lead to a breach of the treaty in coming to her decision". In addition, the Government will hire non-government lawyers. It is not clear which Golding will be represented by these non-government lawyers. Golding is creating an adversarial role for two sets of lawyers and commissioning them to argue.

Mr PM, do not follow this path. Instead, let the solicitor general make that declaration. I believe that the attorney general is the Cabinet's legal advisor while the solicitor general is the country's legal advisor. Some say the solicitor general must be in "accord with government policy and direction." However, that is not so. The solicitor general's position is impartial and we should respect his pronouncements.

And assuming that the solicitor general rules in favour of the PM, what next? The issue remains, is the minister of justice following the letter or spirit of the treaty?

This extradition treaty is an international cooperation in law enforcement between Jamaica and the USA. This treaty replaced the one between USA and UK of 1931 and was signed by the Jamaica Labour Party government of the 1980s. Articles 3 and 6 state mandatory grounds under which extradition should be refused; when it is sought on the basis of race, political opinions, religious beliefs and nationality. Then there are discretionary reasons such as military offence and the death penalty. In addition, if the request is denied based on nationality then the person should be prosecuted in the state denying the request. In the treaty there is also a possibility of provisional arrest. Article 20 provides for the termination of the treaty upon six months' written notice by either side. So there is a way of escape for the Golding administration. But until that time we must respect the articles!

International cooperation

What are the required documents from USA for an extradition? The USA ought to provide the identity of the person and possible time and location of the offence and what law has been broken. Since it is a mutual assistance treaty, if the USA described the person's brother in error then the minister would say to the USA, as partner, that an error has occurred. It is like the Jamaica Defence Force cooperating or partnering with the Jamaica Constabulary Force to fight crime. The extradition treaty was never meant to be an obstacle course. Jamaica and the USA are partners fighting the monster of crime. So far this year in Jamaica the murder rate is running 20 per cent above last year's, which was the worse in our history.

Additional issues

There are two additional issues concerning the admissibility of wiretaps. Since the wiretaps were obtained by a court order, why are the police not using that information/evidence in our courts? It is alleged that John Doe illegally provided legally obtained evidence to the USA and Jamaica wants him to be extradited so he can be brought before our courts. But a government official commits the people of Jamaica to $400 million without Cabinet approval and all the prime minister said was that he was told not to do it again. Why not tell John Doe not to do it again?

In the Trafigura scandal, confidential information was illegally passed on to Mr Golding and the person who did that was seen as a heroine. Why is Doe not a hero? The constable must face the court for his actions and let the court decide also on the extradition request. Mr Golding, you cannot eat your cake and have it.

Devon Dick is pastor of Boulevard Baptist Church and author of 'The Cross and the Machete: Native Baptists of Jamaica - Identity, Ministry and Legacy'. Feedback may be sent to columns@gleanerjm.com.