Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller says newly appointed Attorney General, Evon St. Patrick Atkinson, QC is being appointed through the principle of being fully accountable to the people of Jamaica for the legal approaches adopted by the government through the House of Representatives.
Speaking at the swearing-in of the Attorney General yesterday, Mrs Simpson Miller said her administration accepts the recommendation of the Manatt Commission of Enquiry Report to separate the positions of Attorney General and Minister of Justice, but that the separation does not fully incorporate the matter of accountability.
“We believe that the Attorney General should be accountable to the Parliament. We are also of the view that it is preferable if he or she sits in the House of Representatives with the other elected members. That has been the longstanding tradition in the United Kingdom and we are comfortable in following that tradition” the Prime Minister explained.
She added the government is confident that Mr. Atkinson will approach his duties in a professional manner and with the required dignity.
“He comes to this position with all the necessary attributes to make a solid contribution to the foundation of Jamaica’s development at this time. He is to occupy a position as the head of the legal profession and the chief protector of the rights of all the Jamaican people. His appointment in this, the 50thyear of our status as an independent nation, requires that he sets the standard by which his successors will be judged,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
The Prime Minister said she is satisfied that the public’s interest will be well served by the appointment of Mr. Atkinson, but charged him to be diligent, thoughtful and balanced as he embarks on his new responsibilities.
In his remarks, Mr. Atkinson said it is a privilege to serve one’s country and though persons place monetary values on this privilege, his position is that this opportunity to serve is priceless.
“It is with humility that I accept this opportunity to contribute to good governance and accountability to the people of Jamaica by giving good legal advice to the various government agencies. I promise to bear in mind and give due significance to the constitutional rights of all citizens,” Mr Atkinson assured.