Gov’t Ensures Jamaicans Get Fair Trials in Treaty Countries – Golding

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, says the Government takes keen interest to ensure that Jamaicans get a fair trial in countries with which it has treaties.
  • He told the Upper House on December 4 that when persons are apprehended on the high seas with contraband, they do not have any right to be prosecuted in a particular jurisdiction, and that it is a false assertion that to allow a treaty State to do the trial is an infringement of the citizen’s right.
  • Mr. Golding was responding to Senators who voiced concern about the Bill, which is seeking to amend the Maritime Drug Trafficking (Suppression) Act, to give the Minister of National Security the power to waive Jamaica’s right to exercise jurisdiction over Jamaican nationals who are detained on a Jamaican vessel by the law enforcement agency of a treaty State.

Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, says the Government takes keen interest to ensure that Jamaicans get a fair trial in countries with which it has treaties.

He told the Upper House on December 4 that when persons are apprehended on the high seas with contraband, they do not have any right to be prosecuted in a particular jurisdiction, and that it is a false assertion that to allow a treaty State to do the trial is an infringement of the citizen’s right.

“That’s not a right that you hold, it is the State that has jurisdiction over the vessel, and it is the State that has the right to decide whether to have you brought home to be prosecuted here, or allow you to be prosecuted elsewhere,” the Minister explained.

Mr. Golding was responding to Senators who voiced concern about the Bill, which is seeking to amend the Maritime Drug Trafficking (Suppression) Act, to give the Minister of National Security the power to waive Jamaica’s right to exercise jurisdiction over Jamaican nationals who are detained on a Jamaican vessel by the law enforcement agency of a treaty State.

He noted that prior to entering into treaties with other countries, the Government first “satisfies itself” that their legal systems ensure due process, based on the rule of law, which respects the rights of accused persons.

“The question about violating persons’ constitutional rights is based on an entirely false premise,” the Minister said.

Debate on the Bill was suspended to allow further consultations with Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting.

Earlier in the debate, Minister Golding said that Jamaica’s geographical location places it on the maritime highway between the main drug producing and consuming countries, where traffickers use its territorial seas for the illicit activity, and the treaty requires Jamaica to take action in enabling speedy prosecution of offenders.

The Minister said Jamaica is a party to the 1988 United Nations (UN) Convention against illicit trafficking in narcotics and psychotropic substances. Under the agreement, State parties are required to cooperate through bilateral or multilateral arrangements, to enhance the necessary legislative and administrative measures.

“We have had repeated situations where traffickers are held at sea with large amounts of contraband, and non-Jamaican nationals are taken for prosecution in the United States, and the Jamaicans are handed over for trial in the local court, after which lawyers file for a writ of habeas corpus, and they get away, to later engage in the illegal activity,” Mr. Golding said.

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