WHITEWASH: Opposition party ‘disappointed’ with Commission report

The three-member Commission tabled its report in Parliament on Tuesday.

Agência Brasil

Portia Simpson

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – The main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) says it is disappointed with the report of a Commission of Enquiry that investigated the circumstances that led to the extradition to the United States of reputed gang leader Christopher “Dudus “Coke.

The three-member Commission in its report that was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, said that it found “no misconduct on the part of persons we enquired into,” adding “mistakes and errors were made, but no one, in our view, was guilty of misconduct in the part he or she played in the matter of the extradition of Mr. Coke”.

PNP General Secretary Peter Bunting said a decision would be made on Thursday on the party’s next move regarding the findings of the Commission of Enquiry.“In the next day or two I think we will be making a formal response after consulting with the team that represented us and also among the leadership of the party.

“I am not going to rule out anything that would be appropriate in terms of a response. Personally, I am very disappointed, I think this is a wishy washy report,” Bunting said.PNP and Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller said that the contents of the report could be interpreted as a “travesty, whitewash and cover-up”.

Simpson Miller told legislators that the report should be debated even as Prime Minister Bruce Golding dismissed suggestions of a cover-up.

“For the suggestion to be made that the report contains a whitewash would be indicting, for example, in that whitewash the person who up to the time I took office was special adviser to the Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller.” Golding said, adding that there would be opportunities for the parliament to discuss the report.

He said the report could be submitted to a committee for detailed examination and could be the subject of a motion introduced by an opposition parliamentarian.

The ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has already welcomed the report even though the Commission said Prime Minister Golding’s involvement in the extradition was “inappropriate”.

In the 58 page report, the Commission felt that Prime Minister Golding “should have distanced himself completely from the matter. 

“His failure to do this led to the unfortunate suspicion that he was protecting an alleged narcotics dealer and drug smuggler,” the report said. 

Coke was arrested an extradited to the United States last June after security forces moved into West Kingston constituency to effect the order. At least 73 people were killed.

The matter led to calls for the resignation of the Prime Minister after it was revealed thata United States law firm, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips had been hired to lobby Washington on the extradition affair.

Prime Minister Golding sought to distance his administration from the law firm, saying it had been hired by the ruling JLP.
Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives, Andrew Holness, is urging caution and restraint from those criticising the report.

“We the Government ensured that there was a Commission, the Commission has acted and all parties, not just the JLP should pay attention to the report. I personally believe that it was a good report and the critical issues were addressed in the report,” he said.  

Political commentator Dr. Paul Ashley is questioning whether the country got value for money from the enquiry,  adding that the  report is woefully lacking.

“First of all the size of the report, merely 58 pages when this enquiry lasted in excess of 44 days and had massive amount of evidence and paper work it is amazing that we have a report of merely 58 pages, very few recommendations, little or no reasoning, I find that very strange,” . Ashely said.

Another commentator, Shalman Scott believes the public will reject the findings of the report which he described as extremely conciliatory. He said he is surprised that the Commissioner did not recommend any form of sanctions.

“Of all the witnesses and the various persons, there is admission that something went terribly wrong but yet nobody has been recommended for punishment. This is not surprising to many persons, who thought that the enquiry was compromised from day one. And therefore nothing of any substance relating to the sanctions against certain individuals would be forthcoming,” Scott said.

He also noted that the United States had promised to give its response after the Commission had submitted its report.
“This thing is really not over. Recommendations or no recommendations from the commissioners, it is not over and that is going to be tremendous point of interest.

“As to exactly what the United States Embassy will be saying to the nation in the defence of its staff whose integrity was dragged into the mud and therefore we await that dimension of the response,”  he added.

CMC/kb/pr/11

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