Right Steps & Poui Trees


INDECOM: Selection of the New Commissioner?

Terrence Williams - Commissioner of INDECOM at press conferenceThe contract of the current Commissioner of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) comes to an end in a few days time. Commissioner Terrence Williams, INDECOM’s first commissioner, has provided the body with strong leadership in its first ten years of existence. There will be time to review his time in office, the course he has charted for the organization and the significant impact it has had since it came into being in 2010.

But in this short blog post, I want to raise the issue of the appointment of the next Commissioner of INDECOM. At this point, a few days before the current Commissioner leaves office, the public has no idea who the new Commissioner will be. We have no idea if the selection process has begun. If it has begun, we have no idea what stage it is at. In all likelihood, we will wake up one morning to the announcement that the Governor-General has appointed the new Commissioner and we will at that point be told the name of the person selected to lead this very important Commission of Parliament.

This is because the INDECOM Act follows the formula for appointment of a number of public posts both in the Constitution and in some legislation. In this case it is appointment by the Governor General after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. The formula varies for different posts. But what is common to all is that the public isn’t privy to the process, but merely receives the news of the appointment when someone who is part of the process tells us.

The process for appointment of the Commissioner of INDECOM is set out in Section 3(2) of the INDECOM Act:

“The Commission shall consist of a Commissioner, who shall be appointed by the Governor-General by instrument under the Broad Seal, after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, from persons of high integrity, who possess the qualifications to hold office as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature of Jamaica.”

INDECOM Act selection of Commissioner

Is this an appropriate formula for a modern democracy? The issue has been raised before in regard to other posts. Perhaps it is time for this formula to be reviewed and replaced by more transparent processes. This may be harder to do where it appears in the Constitution, but not as hard when it appears in ordinary legislation.

We may indeed have the appointment of an excellent person for the post of the new Commissioner. But it shouldn’t come in the form of a surprise fait accompli. Not in the year 2020.

 

 


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Inside Looking Out: Weekly Photo Challenge – Heritage

‘This week, share a photo of something that says “heritage” to you.’

Normally I see Jamaica House – the office of the Prime Minister – from the outside looking in. Recently, I attended a meeting there and took this photo when I was leaving…standing at the entrance, looking out.P1140626

Around were the signs of activity associated with maintaining this government property, built after Independence in 1962. Mowing the lawns…

P1140633

…installing a new fridge….P1140637

The building itself isn’t a particular favourite of mine, but the more than 50 years of Jamaican Independence are an essential part of what “heritage” means to me.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Heritage


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.#AToZChallengeJamaica – O is for Out of Many, One People

The Jamaican national motto is ‘Out of Many, One People’, and is based on the population’s multiracial roots.

Jamaica - Coat of Arms

The motto is inscribed in the scroll of the Jamaica Coat of Arms, and was adopted at the time of Independence in 1962. Prior to that, the motto in the Coat of Arms was in Latin –  Indus Uterque Serviet Uni. (The Indians twain shall serve one Lord). It was felt that this motto had no relevance to modern independent Jamaica, and I would have to agree.

Ministry Paper No. 20, dealing with proposed National Emblems, indicates that the decision to change the motto had been made, but a replacement hadn’t yet been selected.

Ministry Paper No 20  - motto

The Ministry Paper was tabled in the House early in 1962.

Ministry Paper No 20 - end

 

Is our motto an existing reality, a guiding principle, an ideal to be aimed for?

To end, a verse from one of Louise Bennett’s poems – “Independence Dignity”, written at the time:

Teet’ an tongue was all united,

Heart an soul was hans an glove,

Fenky-fenky voice gain vigour pon

“Jamaica, land we love”.