KINGSTON – Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, says he will be seeking a meeting with the United States Government to discuss the provisions of the extradition treaty between the two countries, as soon as the Commission of Enquiry into the extradition of Christopher Coke is completed.
He said dialogue between the two countries was essential, to ensure that the rights of Jamaicans and the provisions of the Constitution are observed.
The Prime Minister made the statement while being cross examined by People’s National Party (PNP) lead attorney, K.D. Knight, on Thursday March 31, as the enquiry continued at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown, Kingston.
Mr. Golding said that he believed the rights of Jamaicans must be protected, and that all countries, including the US, must understand that his Government will be strident in the defence of the laws and Constitution of Jamaica.
“Similar to the extradition treaty that they (US) have with Ireland, which says that all of what is done under this treaty is subject to the laws of Ireland, we have to make sure that the same protection is provided for the citizens of Jamaica,” he argued.
Mr. Golding also testified that he believed there were striking similarities between the Christopher Coke’s extradition request, and the 1989 case of Richard “Storyteller” Morrison,
Morrison, a close associate of Coke’s father, Lester Lloyd Coke, was extradited to South Florida, where he was accused of being a leader of the Shower Posse, while he was seeking leave to appeal the extradition orders at the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. He was eventually tried on charges separate from those for which his extradition was requested. Mr. Knight was the Minister of National Security and Justice at the time.
Mr. Golding argued that despite the many similarities in the two cases, the Government at the time did not have to wrestle as much as he was forced to, based on the simple fact that Morrison was not a member of the PNP.
“I wrestled with this potential conflict, Mr. Chairman, the way in which the Government of the day and the Minister of the day did not have to wrestle in 1990 in the case of Richard Morrison,” he stated.
“There are so many similarities between that case and this case. For example the request for the extradition of Richard “Storyteller” Morrison was received by diplomatic note on the 31st of October 1989. The authority to proceed was not signed until 12th of July 1990, nine months after the request was received,” Mr. Golding said.
The extradition request for Coke was received by diplomatic note in August 2009, however the authority to proceed was not signed until May the following year.
Mr. Golding acknowledged, however, that “the Government of the day” was not unwilling to say to the Government of the United States “you have done wrong and we want an assurance that that wrong will not be repeated,” in the case of Mr. Morrison..
The Prime Minister testified that he was facing much difficulty in understanding the extent to which different considerations and different standards are now being applied, in the case of Coke.
“We can argue about the way in which my Government may have gone about it but, in that case, the Government of the day stood up for the rights of Jamaican citizens,” he told the Commission.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter