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Scott-Mottley accuses Gov’t of having authoritarian tendencies Loop Jamaica

A senior member of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) is accusing the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government of carrying out an “assault on democracy”.

Senator Donna Scott-Mottley, the PNP’s spokesperson on justice, has also accused the Andrew Holness-led administration of “authoritarian arrogance”.

Scott-Mottley launched the broadside during a PNP press conference on Wednesday, which was called after the government used its super majority in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, to effect changes to the constitution, which effectively increase the age at which the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) retires from 60 to 65.

The change, which also impacts the auditor general, was made without consultation with Opposition leader Mark Golding, as is required, and despite strong objection from Opposition members of Parliament.

“Yesterday (Tuesday) I watched an assault on democracy take place in our Parliament,” Scott-Mottley said.

The attorney-at-law said she was not surprised because “this government has always been in a fight with the constitution”.

She said the tendency manifested itself from the time Holness was Opposition leader when he sought to use pre-signed letters of resignation to remove two of his senators.

And, Scott-Mottley noted that Holness was the first prime minister to consider placing a chief justice on probation. This, she said, was a “demonstration of his lack of understanding of the country’s parliamentary system and the critical decision to have the separation of powers embedded in parliamentary procedures and the constitution”.

Scott-Mottley also chided Justice Minister Delroy Chuck who piloted the amendment bill, and whom she noted “tried to assume responsibility for this amendment”.

“If you are the minister of justice you have a greater responsibility than any other member of Parliament or member of Cabinet, to lead by example and the way that you do matters, the way that you bring these matters to the Parliament,” she argued.

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Stressing that the Opposition was not consulted and was not notified except a few hours prior to the convening of Parliament, Scott-Mottley said: “In this way, the minister of justice and the government demonstrated a level of authoritarian arrogance which we have come to see as a part of their modusoperandi and a reflection of how they see their role as against the people of this country”.

She insisted that consultation was necessary as the powers of the DPP are vast.

Said Scott-Mottley: “The director of public prosecutions (DPP) can institute and undertake proceedings against any person before any court …in respect of any offence against the laws of Jamaica. The DPP can take over and continue any such criminal proceedings that may have been instituted by any other persons or authority. And most significantly, the DPP can discontinue at any stage, before judgement is delivered, any such criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by him (her) or any other person or authority.”

Continuing her broadside, the Opposition senator said, “More and more you hear about mandatory sentencing, mandatory wills, mandatory DNA. And this government is determined to impose itself into every aspect of the life of these (Jamaican) people”.