Right Steps & Poui Trees


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Long-Awaited Joint Select Committee Report on Review of Sexual Offences & Other Acts

The long-awaited report from the Joint Select Committee reviewing the Sexual Offences Act, the Offences Against the Person Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Child Care and Protection Act was tabled in the Parliament yesterday, December 11, 2018.

The review of the four Acts had its origin in a Private Members Motion tabled by then Opposition Senator Kamina Johnson Smith in 2013. A previous Committee began the review in 2014, but didn’t complete the review before the general elections in 2016. The new Committee began its deliberations in January 2017 and held nineteen meetings. More than thirty submissions were made by entities or individuals.

I have not yet read the report in detail, but am posting it on my blog to provide a copy for those who wish to read and consider it.

JSC report cover

                                                      (Click on link below)

Joint Select Committee Report – Review of Sexual Offences & Other Acts December 2018

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The Auditor General’s Petrojam Report & International Anti-Corruption Day

Today is International Anti-Corruption Day and in recognition of that I thought I would post the Auditor General’s Petrojam report which was tabled in Parliament last Tuesday, December 4, 2018. In the days following its release, the report has been the focus of a great deal of discussion in traditional and social media, and has gained a lot of public interest. Prime Minister Andrew Holness is to have a media briefing tomorrow (Monday) morning and it is expected that he will address this issue during the briefing.

Auditor General's Petrojam Report Dec 2018 - cover

A Review of Aspects of PCJ and a Comprehensive Audit of Petrojam Limited – Auditor General December 2018

Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis’ Forward to the report reads as follows:

The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) is a statutory organization created by the Petroleum Act, with the exclusive right to explore and develop the petroleum resources of Jamaica. It is also the Government agency charged with the responsibility for facilitating the development of the country’s energy resources in a manner that supports the overall strategy for national development in support of the National Energy Policy and Vision 2030 National Development Plan (NDP). PCJ’s subsidiary Petrojam’s primary function is to import and convert crude oil into various types of petroleum products for supply and use in the domestic market. Both PCJ and Petrojam’s governance practices and financial operations are subjected to the Public Bodies Management & Accountability (PBMA) Act, GOJ Corporate Governance and Accountability Frameworks and applicable guidelines issued by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service (MoFPS).

Stemming from public concerns regarding mismanagement at Petrojam, I commissioned a comprehensive audit using the performance, compliance and special audit methodologies, as well as financial statements assessment of Petrojam. I also reviewed specified areas of PCJ to assess whether its practices were consistent with the principles of good financial management and whether the practices accorded with GOJ Guidelines and good practices, to attain value for money. I also sought to assess whether PCJ provided robust oversight to Petrojam, based on its parent subsidiary relationship. This report is a compendium of the findings of the reviews of both entities.

The audit revealed a number of deficiencies, which have since been brought to the attention of the management of PCJ and Petrojam. I have proffered a number of recommendations for implementation aimed at strengthening the governance arrangements at both entities. However, I believe that these recommendations are of relevance to all public bodies and should be considered by the Office of the Cabinet and Ministry of Finance and the Public Service (MoFPS) for sector-wide implementation.

Thanks to the management and staff of Petrojam and PCJ for their co-operation and assistance during the audit.

On page 6, there is a useful visual summary, but the report is worth reading in its entirety.

Auditor General's Petrojam report p 6 visual summary

Auditor General’s Petrojam report, p 6

The Auditor General’s Reports

In 2016, the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition and Caribbean Vulnerable Communities published a review of the Auditor General’s reports for the period 2010 – 2015, which is a useful document to refer to in the current context.

Auditor Genera's assessment report - cover

Auditor General’s Reports and MDA Accountability Assessment 2010 – 2015

The Executive Summary gives an indication of the purpose of the review:

“This report focuses primarily on the Auditor General’s Department, its work, the support it receives from the wider accountability environment and the level of responsiveness from other public officials (especially the Public Accounts Committee). The report looks at the crucial question of sanctions – who has the authority to sanction, what sanctions are available and are they being used.The research was undertaken against the background of decades long, public cries of concern for the lack of accountability, repeated reports of waste and public perception of corruption.

As coalitions of civil society groups, both the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition desired a fuller understanding of Jamaica’s accountability environment and if and how the public can strengthen the work of the Auditor General. Shedding further light on the auditor general’s findings and the state of governance as well as building understanding of the accountability framework in order to better use it are main goals of the research.” p. 8

Jeanette Calder, researcher and writer for this review and one of the people most familiar with reports of Auditor General’s Department, tweeted this the day after the Petrojam report was tabled in Parliament:

JC tweet re Petrojam report Dec 5 2018

Former Contractor General Greg Christie has also tweeted about the Petrojam report, including the following:Christie tweet re Petrojam report 5-12-18

International Anti-Corruption Day

December 9 is celebrated as International Anti-Corruption Day.

“Corruption begets more corruption, and fosters a corrosive culture of impunity. The United Nations Convention against Corruption is among our primary tools for advancing the fight. Sustainable Development Goal 16 and its targets also offer a template for action.”
— UN Secretary-General, António Guterres
Christie tweet re corruption 7-12-18
We wait to see how the government responds to this latest report and allegations of waste, mismanagement and corruption and whether we, the public, will resist the 9-day-wonder syndrome.


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Office of Public Defender’s Submission: The Report & the Presentations in Parliament

On November 21 & November 27, 2018, Public Defender Arlene Harrison-Henry presented a report on impacts of the States of Public Emergency to the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament. The report focuses primarily on data concerning detainees and the conditions in which they have been held. There has been much public discussion regarding the report and I simply wanted to make it available for those who would like to read it.

Public Defender's report Nov 2018Office of the Public Defender – The Submission to Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament

Office of the Public Defender – Appendices to Submissions

 

 

 

 

Public Defender - IEAC November 27, 2018

The next meeting of the Internal and External Affairs Committee is currently scheduled for Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at 10:00am. The Commissioner of Police is to be invited to attend, as well as the Public Defender.


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Remembrance Day 2018: Jamaica

Things come to your notice in a variety of ways, some of them unexpected. I was reminded of the Remembrance Day ceremony at National Heroes Park by a Ministry of National Security tweet on Friday.MNS tweet re JDF Remembrance Day rehersal - 9-11-18

Today being the hundredth anniversary of Armistice Day and never having been before, I decided to go to the memorial ceremony. There was adequate parking at National Heroes Park, and as I walked inside the entrance, I was encouraged to make a donation to the Annual Poppy Appeal, which I did.IMG_20181111_194635_resized_20181111_074759473 - Remembrance Day 2018 poppies

While I was waiting for the ceremony to begin, I saw a gentleman walking around with poppies and heard him telling someone at the end of the row I was sitting in that he was 85 and that people called him the Poppy Man. I intended to speak with him at the end of the ceremony to ask his name, but unfortunately I didn’t see him later.Remembrance Day 2018 ceremony

The National Memorial Service was scheduled to start at 10:55am, with the official arrivals beginning earlier.

 

(This is a link to a copy of the full programme for the Remembrance Day 2018 service.)

Arrivals

 

Time, like an ever rolling stream,

Bears all its sons away

– O God, our help in ages past – Opening Hymn

Period of Silence & The Last Post

 

(The period of silence commences and ends with a one-gun Salute. The Last Post is sounded by the JDF buglers.)

The Exhortation was read by Mr Gerald Manhertz, who I was told after the ceremony is 90-years-old and is one of the few living Jamaicans to have served in World War II.Remembrance Day 2018 f

Remembrance Day 2018 - The Exhortation

The National Anthem was sung before the Wreath Laying Ceremony.Remembrance Day 2018 - Jamaican flag

Justice, Truth be ours forever,

Jamaica, Land we love.

– National Anthem

Wreath Laying Ceremony

His Excellency The Governor General Greets the War Veterans on Parade

Once the ceremony ended, there were the official departures…

Remembrance Day 2018 o

…after which people milled around, talking and taking photographs….Remembrance Day 2018 p

I am glad that I attended the Memorial Service today. Acts of remembering are important to a society. P1340943 Remembrance Day 2018

 

 


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350 Words Or Less: Measuring Pain

Have you ever been asked during a medical assessment to describe the level of pain you are experiencing? I was recently and was asked to use a scale of 1-10, with 1 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain. (I don’t recall the actual words used to describe the worst pain. Was it the worst pain I had ever experienced? The worst pain I could imagine?)

I answered but thought the question was subjective and my answers imprecise. Experience of pain is subjective, obviously, but I wondered if there were more specific descriptions that might help me (or anyone) give more precise answers.

I checked the internet and quickly found some scales that were helpful in clarifying what levels of pain might look like. I hadn’t encountered these before and found them useful. I’m sharing them, in case anyone else might find them useful or simply interesting. I wonder if there are similar scales for measuring emotional pain?

MEDICAL PAIN SCALE 0-10

Have difficulty rating your pain levels when the physician, nurse of therapist asks? You are not alone, many people aren’t sure of the pain scale definition or how to rate their pain level scale between 1-10. The chart below provides some tangible examples of the various levels that define the 0-10 pain scale. 

0 Pain free

1 Very minor annoyance – occasional minor twinges

2 Minor annoyance – occasional

3 Annoying enough to be distracting

4 Can be ignored if you are really involved in your work, but still distracting.

5 Can’t be ignored for more than 30 minutes.

6 Can’t be ignored for any length of time, but you can still go to work and participate in social activities.

7 Makes it difficult to concentrate. Interferes with sleep, you can still function with effort.

8 Physical activity severely limited. You can read and converse with effort. Nausea and dizziness may occur.

9 Unable to speak, crying out or moaning uncontrollable – pain makes you pass out.

10 Unconscious. Pain makes you pass out.

(http://compass.rehab/patient-resources/medical-pain-scale)

Comparative Pain Scale – Jack Harich

Comparative Pain Scale aComparative Pain Scale bhttps://www.thwink.org/personal/ComparativePainScale.pdf

There are many other scales, including some using facial drawings. (A reminder that if you’re experiencing pain, it’s best to discuss it with a trained professional.)

 


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Lightning Over Kingston & A Few Other Things To See

I was up in the hills with family last week, in the Blue Mountains, probably my favourite place in the world. One night I sat on a balcony, watching lightning flashing over Kingston just after sunset. I called my granddaughter to come and see & she climbed up on my lap to watch with me. After the first flash of lightning lit up the sky, she said, “More!” I explained to her that the lightning doesn’t come when we want it to, but that if we sit patiently and watch, we might see it again. And we did, a few more times. P1340070 sunset with lightning 10-10-18

There are so many smaller things to see also, like new mango leaves in the morning rain…P1340164 new mango leaves in morning rain - 10-18…moss growing on roof shingles…P1340111 - roof shingles and moss 10-18…and cat tails (Acalypha hispida) sparkling with dew…P1330902 - cat tails 10-18

My love for the Blue Mountains goes back to childhood summer holidays, when we used to spend time at the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) camp at Newcastle. It was possible to rent some of the cottages and my siblings, cousins and I remember those times as magical.P1330982 - Newcastle 10-18Just part of Jamaica’s Blue Mountain range…

Blue Mountains panorama 10-18


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Fire at Walker’s Place of Safety: More Information Needed

On January 16, 2018, a fire at the Walker’s Place of Safety resulted in the death of two  teenaged girls who lived at the institution, Ornieka McCrae and Anna Kay Moreland . I have made three Access to Information (ATI) requests to the Child Protection & Family Services Agency (CPFSA), formerly the Child Development Agency (CDA), for documents containing information about the specific circumstances which led to the death of the girls. All three requests were responded to in a timely manner, but unfortunately have provided very little detail about the circumstances which led to the children’s deaths.

The CPFSA report (CDA Report – Walkers POS), which indicates it was submitted on February 15, 2018, a month after the fire, contained this information about the death of the girls:

CPFSA Walker's Feb 2018 report

Page 10

CPFSA report Walker's Place of Safety 2018 p.11

Page 11

CPFSA report Walker's Place of Safety 2018 p. 13

Page 13

The CPFSA report says that “the Fire Department…advised that an investigation has been launched into the cause of the fire.” The Jamaica Fire Brigade’s Final Fire Report (Jamaica Fire Brigade Final Fire Report – Walker’s Place of Safety – March 16 2018) is the result of that investigation, I assume. It had this to say about the death of the two girls:

Walker's Fire Brigade report p 1

General Remarks – page 1

Walker's Fire Brigade report p 2

General Remarks – page 2

Walker's Fire Brigade report p 2b

Origin and Cause – page 2

I found it difficult to accept that this was all that the CPFSA had in terms of specific information on the circumstances surrounding the death of two children in State care and made a third request for relevant information. I received the following response:

“With regards to your request below, please be advised that the only documents the CPFSA has relating to the death of the children in the fire at Walker’s POS are the Jamaica Fire Brigade Report and the CPFSA Walker’s report for which you have already obtained copies.” July 3, 2018

It cannot be that this represents the entire documentation of an incident in which two girls in the care of the state died. I am at this stage assuming that some other department of government has further information documented and I will be making additional ATI requests. For example, are there any statements by staff at the facility regarding what happened that night? Were any of the children who survived interviewed and their accounts documented? Thankfully thirty-four of the thirty-six children escaped safely, but surely we must want to find out why two children did not.