Veteran Attorney-at-Law, Hon Patrick Atkinson, was sworn as Jamaica's new Attorney General by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, at King's House on Tuesday (January 10).
Mr. Atkinson described his appointment as a "privileged and priceless" opportunity to serve the people of Jamaica.
"It is indeed a privilege to serve one's country and, although some may seek to place monetary values on this privilege, it is my position that my ability to serve is priceless," Mr. Atkinson stated.
He said that he accepted the opportunity to contribute to good governance and accountability to the people of Jamaica, by giving legal advice to government agencies, with great humility.
"I promise to bear in mind and give due significance to the constitutional rights of all citizens. Indeed, I note that the only colours that the Constitution comes in, is black and white, and that is to facilitate reading," he commented.
He also assured that his advice would not be influenced by anything other than the Constitution, "and what is in the best interest of the administration of justice and the rights of the people".
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, highlighted that the government chose not to depart from the recommendations of the Manatt Commission of Enquiry to separate the offices of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General.
She said, however, that the question of accountability to the Jamaican people would not be fully answered, if the government only sought to simply separate the two positions and, as such, her administration sought to ensure that the Attorney General will also be accountable to the Parliament.
“We’re also of the view that it is preferable that he or she sits in the House of Representatives, with the other elected members,” she remarked. She noted that this has been the long standing tradition in the United Kingdom, one which the government is comfortable with.
She argued that the principal legal adviser to the government should be accountable to the people, by being answerable in Parliament for the legal approaches adopted by the government. She said Mr. Atkinson’s appointment was in accord with that rule.
She also noted that Mr. Atkinson comes to the post with the requisite legal skills and qualifications to allow him to carry out his duties in a professional manner and with dignity.
The Governor-General, in welcoming Mr. Atkinson, noted that his appointment was an indication of confidence inhis ability to guide the affairs of the office, given the manner in which he has acquitted himself in the legal profession.
"I wish you success in all endeavours to serve this country as a proud Jamaican," the Governor-General stated.