KINGSTON — The Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the extradition of Christopher "Dudus" Coke was tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday June 14 by Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding.
It contains four main recommendations to the Government, including that the portfolios of Minister of Justice and Attorney General be separated.
“We have considered the quality and amount of work that is done by the Attorney General’s Department, and the quality and volume of work done by the Ministry of Justice, and we recommend that these departments be headed by two different people,” the reported stated.
It further stated that the Attorney General should not have to be a Minister or a member of either House of Parliament, but may attend Cabinet meetings at the invitation of the Prime Minister.
The report also recommended that Cabinet should be informed of any amendments or memoranda affecting constitutional rights, and that Commissioners involved in enquiries should be given the powers of a Supreme Court Judge, for the purpose of being able to cite persons for contempt.
“We think the behaviour of Counsels would be very different, if the Commissioners were to be given the right to cite them for contempt. We therefore recommend an amendment to the Enquiries Act, to give Commissioners the power to commit for contempt,” the reported said.
The document also recommended that the Enquiries Act should provide that commissioners can state a case for the opinion of the Supreme Court, in matters of law.
In specific relation to the Coke Enquiry, the report noted that, although late in signing the Authority to Proceed, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Senator the Hon. Dorothy Lightbourne, acted reasonably when she did.
The document also stated that the supply of Christopher Coke’s telephone records to United States government agencies, was a breach of his constitutional rights
The Commission of Enquiry was appointed by the Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen on October 19, 2010, on the advice of Prime Minister Golding. The Commissioners were Hon. Emil George Q.C., Chairman; Hon. Anthony Irons O.J. and Donald Scharshmidt Q.C.
The Prime Minister, Senator Lightbourne, Minister of National Security, Senator the Hon. Dwight Nelson; and Opposition spokesman, Peter Phillips, were grilled for several days by attorneys appearing at the enquiry.
The Enquiry was initially scheduled to end on February 28, but was twice extended by the Governor-General at the request of the Commissioners. It was established to examine the handling of the extradition of Coke to the United States, on drugs and gun running charges, in 2010.
By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter