JIS News

Chairman of the Commission of Enquiry into the handling of the Christopher Coke extradition request, Queen's Counsel, Hon. Emil George has ruled that the four memoranda of understanding (MOU) between Jamaica, the United States of America and England can be admitted as evidence.  

As result of the ruling, witnesses can now be cross examined on the four MOUs, but the documents should be kept in the custody of the Commissioners.

Commissioner Emil George had earlier in the proceedings ruled that testimony arising from the memoranda will not be made public. “We have looked at the document and we have decided that we will share whatever is to be discussed about those documents in camera,” Mr. George stated.

The Commission had adjourned its proceedings to determine whether or not the contents of the four memoranda of understanding should be heard in chambers or in public.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Evadne Coye, was today crossed examined by counsels at the enquiry on the contents of the MOUs.

During the cross examination, Counsel for the Opposition, K.D. Knight asked Ambassador Coye when she first became aware of the existence of the four MOUs.

“A question was asked in one of the meetings that we attended at the Office of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister asked the question as to whether or not anybody knew of any memoranda of understanding between the United States and Jamaica. Nobody in the room at that time knew about it,” the Permanent Secretary said.

She further noted that she got “hold of the MOUs on December 21, 2010 while we were preparing for a bilateral meeting with a delegation from the United States of America.”

Ambassador Coye also noted that the MOUs were delivered to her from the Ministry of National Security. She was also asked by Counsel for the Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding, Hugh Small if the MOUs could be considered to be some form of treaty.

“I have not ever read the memoranda of understanding and I am guided by the opinions or the advice I received from the Attorney General’s Chamber as to the nature of the letters I should write to the Embassy of the United States and to the British High Commission,” Ambassador Coye said.

Division Director at the Attorney General's Department, Curtis Cochrane, testifying before the Commission on Friday January 28, said that the memoranda are bilateral and tripartite agreements between Jamaica and her international partnersand that the international parties need to be consulted before disclosure. 

“It would be expected that before any steps are taken towards disclosure, we would like to discuss the matter with our partners, who were involved in the signing of these documents. This process has begun; Ambassador Coye, has written to the relevant parties and we are awaiting a response,” Mr. Cochrane said.  

The proceedings at the Commission of Enquiry were adjourned after the testimony of the Ambassador. The Commission will resume on Tuesday (February 1) at 9:30 a.m. with testimonies from Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Jeremy Taylor and Solicitor General, Douglas Leys.