JIS News

Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, has defended the Government’s decision not to proceed with the United States’ (US) request for the extradition of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, noting that evidence presented against Coke was obtained in violation of Jamaican law.
In responding to the US Narcotics Control Strategy Report for 2009 in Parliament yesterday (March 3), which makes prominent reference to the August 2009 request for the extradition of Coke on drug trafficking charges, the Prime Minister said that “there were aspects of the case and the procedures employed that were abnormal.”
He noted that, in most instances, these peculiarities would not, by themselves, prevent the request from being proceeded with. However in one important respect, it was found that there was violation of the Interception of Communications Act.
Mr. Golding said the law requires that for intercepted communication to be admissible in any criminal proceedings it must have been obtained, disclosed and used in accordance with exacting provisions.
“The Interception of Communications Act makes strict provisions for the manner in which intercepted communications may be obtained and disclosed. The evidence supporting the extradition request in this particular case violated those provisions. This was highly irregular,” he said.
“So serious an offence is this violation that the penalty provided by law is a maximum fine of $5 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both such fine and imprisonment,” the He said that the Jamaican Government, rather than summarily refusing the request, discussed with the US authorities the breaches that had occurred, and consistent with the provisions of the Extradition Treaty, sought clarification and additional information.
The discussions, he told the House, involved several meetings both in Jamaica and in Washington D.C., where the legal position was fully outlined by the Jamaican authorities and the US authorities undertook to consider the issues and requested time to do so.
The Prime Minister noted further that the Jamaican Government indicated to the US authorities that if other evidence existed, the procurement and disclosure of which were not in violation of Jamaican law, the Minister of Justice, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, would be prepared to accept that evidence and issue the necessary authority to proceed.
“Their response, received only yesterday, has not altered its position (and) ever since the receipt of this extradition request, the Jamaican Government has remained constantly engaged with the US authorities on the matter,” Mr. Golding said.
The US Narcotics Control Strategy Report accuses the Government of “unfounded allegations questioning US compliance with the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and Jamaican law” and has questioned the Government’s commitment to law enforcement co-operation with the US.
“We respectfully reject these assertions. The Minister, in authorising extradition proceedings, has a duty to satisfy herself that they conform to the provisions of Jamaican law. As Minister and, especially, as Attorney-General, she cannot authorise processes, which she knows to be in violation of Jamaican law,” Mr. Golding stressed.