Speech

The Government has refrained from making any detailed public comment regarding the request by the US Government for the extradition of a Jamaican national, Mr. Christopher Coke, to face charges in the United States. This is in keeping with established convention. However, recent statements by the Opposition warrant an appropriate response.
It is completely untrue, as suggested by the Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Mr. Peter Bunting that the Government has failed to respond to the extradition request by the US Government.
The Jamaican Government has, indeed, responded through the channels laid down in the Extradition Treaty between Jamaica and the United States and there is on-going communication between the authorities of both states.
The extradition of any person is not an automatic process. It is subject to due consideration by the Minister and due process through the Courts and must be in accordance with the provisions of both the Treaty and the Extradition Act of Jamaica.
In the instant case there are legal and constitutional issues which are the subject of correspondence between the Jamaican and US authorities, the details of which it would be inappropriate the disclose while these issues are being deliberated.
It is to be recalled that as a result of the hasty and precipitous action of a former Minister of Justice, a Jamaican national was improperly and illegally extradited to the US in 1992.
Despite its considerable efforts, the Government was unable to secure the return of the citizen to enable the breach to be remedied. The error was compounded when the citizen was tried in the US in a manner which further breached the provisions of the Treaty.
As a result, the Jamaican Government suspended extradition proceedings for three years and these were only resumed in 1995 after it received specific assurances from the US Justice Department that the provisions of the Treaty would be faithfully observed.
The Opposition should be advised to take careful note of the undertaking given by its own Minister of National Security and Justice, Mr. K.D. Knight, in an address to Parliament on June 6, 1995: “I wish to give the assurance that my Ministry will do everything in its power to ensure that the extradition process in Jamaica is carried out in a manner which is faithful not only to our international obligations but also to the fundamental concepts of justice and fairness as enshrined in the Constitution.”