JIS News

Opposition Leader, Bruce Golding has indicated that he would like to hold discussions with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to resolve conflicting issues regarding the proposed Charter of Rights Bill. Mr. Golding made the suggestion during his contribution to the 2006/2007 Budget Debate in Gordon House on Thursday (May 4). “Let’s do it as a matter of urgency so that when we go to the next elections we can stand from our separate platforms and present to the Jamaican people their shield and defence – a Charter of justiciable rights,” he stated.
Mr. Golding noted that “For more than 10 years we have been working to design a Charter of Rights that is secure and enforceable so that every Jamaican, no matter how poor, can hold it up as his shield and weapon against abuse,” he said.
“We have made considerable headway and we are now down to 10 points that still need to settled.some of these are drafting issues; others are issues of substance,” the Opposition Leader added.
Mr. Golding also suggested that a single independent investigative body be established to address any violations or abuses that take place in either the Jamaica Constabulary Force or the Jamaica Defence Force.
“We have long called for an independent investigative authority to investigate such cases of suspected abuse,” Mr. Golding noted. He further noted that the Police Public Complaints Authority operated in parallel mode, investigating civilian complaints against members of the police force.
“Then there is the JDF which claims that as a military unit, it must investigate itself,” he said.
He therefore proposed that all these functions be incorporated into a single investigative body.
The Opposition Leader suggested that the authority of such a body be expanded to include all branches of the security forces, and resources be given as well as the investigative capacity to do its job.
He also called for an amendment to legislation to provide for the appointment of a Special Coroner who would not be confined to any parish (coroner-at-large) and who would be responsible for conducting coroner’s inquests in those cases of death where agents of the state might have been involved.
“These inquests need not be held in a court house,” Mr. Golding stated, advising that a suitable building in close proximity to the scene such as a community centre or a church hall could be used instead.
“The inquest could be held within a matter of weeks while information is still fresh and witnesses are available,” he said.