The Manatt Report and Buju’s Sentencing
The Golding Administration last Tuesday tabled in the House of Representatives the report of the Emile George led Commission of Enquiry. Having enquired for some 40 days into the extradition saga which nearly brought down the ruling Labour party, the commissioners presented a report which has been condemned and rejected by the general citizenry. Indeed, the only groups which have accepted the report are the Government and the JLP.
I wish to highlight a few points from the report which I find puzzling.
The first and perhaps the most glaring travesty which jumps from the report presented, is that section which speaks to Prime Minister Golding’s involvement in the matter. The commissioners concede that Golding’s involvement was “inappropriate” and “imprudent”, but there is no comma; there is a full stop. In other words, that is the end of the matter. This cannot be acceptable.
If the commissioners felt that the Prime Minister’s actions were unwise and inappropriate, they should have drawn conclusions as to :
(1) Why they felt his actions were inappropriate and imprudent
(2) How, if at all, did the Prime Minister’s involvement serve to retard the process?
(3) What was the reason for the Prime Minister involving himself in the process?
(4) And if he acted inappropriately, what sanction should be imposed to prevent a repeat of his impropriety?
None of this was done. Instead, the frail and apologetic commissioners excused all the officials of any misconduct. It is a travesty. I don’t care how skewed they made the definition of misconduct, once the Prime Minister is found to have acted inappropriately or improperly, he is guilty of misconduct; to some extent or degree and he ought to have been sanctioned accordingly.
In finding no one guilty of misconduct, the commissioners noted that it was “unfortunate” that some witnesses had memory failure and in some cases “selective memory”. Is that supposed to be a joke? How is it acceptable that you notice someone is choosing to remember some things and excluding others and you let it pass when your quest was to find the truth? There was a deliberate attempt to mislead the commission, that is what selective memory amounts to and that is not misconduct? That is not an act worthy of sanctions? That is not contempt for the people of Jamaica? I submit that it is.
The next puzzling aspect of the report is the treatment of the Justice Minister and Attorney General. If I recall correctly, and so many didn’t recall at that enquiry; the Solicitor General, Douglas Leys, told the commission that the Justice Minister had lied to the Senate when she advised that she had only heard of the law firm when Dr. Phillips raised the issue in the lower house in March 2010. In fact, Mr. Leys testified that he told the Minister about the law firm from as far back as December of the previous year.
The Minister lying to the Senate of Jamaica does not amount to misconduct? When former President of the United States Bill Clinton lied to that country about his “sexual relations with that woman”, the US House of Representatives swiftly impeached him for perjury, but here in Jamaica, we found no person guilty of misconduct. It is a travesty and an affront to the intelligence of the Jamaican people. The report found that she should have turned the matter over to the Courts, doesn’t that amount to dereliction of duty and ultimately misconduct on her part? If she felt that there was genuine breach of Jamaican law, why didn’t she turn it over to the arm of Government charged with interpreting the law? Why didn’t she allow the matter to go before the Courts? The commissioners erred by not questioning the motives of the parties involved. What caused them to act in the “inappropriate” and “imprudent” manner in which they did?
Finally, Dr. Ronald Robinson. The former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister testified that he had been sent to Washington on behalf of the Government, and not the Jamaica Labour Party. He repeatedly contradicted the Prime Minister as to the reason for his visit to Washington and New York. Why wasn’t this dealt with in the report? It is a shameful and barefaced cover up. I’m inclined to agree with Senator Knight, they should be made to repay every red cent.
The “Gargamel” has been sentenced.
Note : I’ll just comment on this briefly. I figured if it was in the title of the post, more people would read it.
So Mark “Buju Banton” Myrie has been sentenced to 10 years in a maximum security prison by a Florida Court and the reaction of Jamaicans is again amusing. When he was found guilty, there was disbelief and shock and I wondered, why? Based on the evidence presented against him by the prosecution, did anyone really expect him to get off? And once found guilty, did we really expect him to get a “light sentence”? Or is it that we didn’t bother to avail ourselves of the charges and the penalties they carry?
We somehow felt his name would save him? I don’t mean to be insensitive, I really don’t, but this is about justice. If you are found guilty or a crime, that verdict informed by overwhelming evidence, then you ought to serve the time.
I wish Buju well and to his supporters and fans, there’s always an appeal.