MoU disclosure in Parliament gives boost to 'Storyteller' Morrison in his quest for compensation in wrongful extradition case

Senior staff reporter

Monday, November 04, 2019

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A seemingly flawed memorandum of understanding (MoU) has given a fillip to alleged former leader of the notorious “Shower Posse”, Richard “Storyteller” Morrison, in his quest for justice.

News last week emerged that the Supreme Court, found that the 2004 MoU which Jamaica signed with the United States, and which allowed for the use of intercepted information in prosecuting members of transnational criminal organisations, was “unsatisfactory and inadequate” .

Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang last Tuesday told the House of Representatives that Jamaica had inked a new MoU with the US, after extensive negotiations, because the previous one did not meet the bar of Jamaica law.

“Given the legal implications, we had to discontinue any work under the [2004] MoU,” said Chang.

“The Ministry of National Security, Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General's Chambers embarked on intensive negotiations to ensure that we had an agreement that satisfied the lawful requirements of Jamaica. Mr Speaker, any such protocol for security cooperation must satisfy our Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms that protects Jamaican citizens from arbitrary action,” added Chang.

That is enough for Morrison to charge that current issues surrounding the 2004 MoU require the court's urgent intervention.

“Now is the time for the Supreme Court to intervene on behalf of the citizens of Jamaica, and set guidelines for the Government on what the Government can do and cannot do in international matters,” Morrison said in a statement to the Jamaica Observer titled 'No Right Way To Do the Wrong Thing'.

“While the Government must have flexibility in deciding how its duties under the Crown's prerogative over foreign relations are discharged, the executive is not exempt from constitutional scrutiny,” Morrison insisted.

“The Supreme Court has the jurisdiction and the duty to determine whether a prerogative power asserted by the Crown exists, and whether its exercise infringe international law and violates the constitutional right to due process for any Jamaican citizen. And, where necessary, give specific directions for the future to the executive branch of the Government, in order to protect the rights of every Jamaican citizen, regardless of political affiliation and in accordance with international jurisdiction,” he added.

Morrison still regards his 22-year imprisonment in the United States, after being extradited while he was awaiting a hearing in Jamaica in 1991, a violation of his constitutional rights as a Jamaican.

The Jamaican courts have found that Morrison was wrongfully deported because of an “administrative error”.

Morrison was identified by US authorities as one of the leaders of the Shower Posse, which had its roots the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) stronghold of Tivoli Gardens but spread its tentacles internationally, including in America and Britain.

Following a court hearing, an order was made in February 1991 for him to be extradited. Resulting from the order, he filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking his immediate release.

Although he lost his legal battles in both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, he was advised that he had a strong appeal and, on April 29, 1991, he filed a notice of intention to apply for leave to take his case to the United Kingdom-based Privy Council, contesting then justice minister Carl Rattray's constitutional authority to sign the extradition warrant.

Since being deported to Jamaica in 2013 Morrison, who suffered a serious stroke and walks with some difficulty, has been seeking compensation from the Jamaican authorities for the “administrative error” which led to his extradition. However, although the Government has admitted the error, the court has failed to meet on several occasions for an assessment of the damages.

He has often criticised the local court for delaying a conclusion to the issue, and has admitted that the court's assessment followed his rejection of an undisclosed offer some years ago from the Government. He described the offer as “monkey money”.

“I have not been in any courtroom or before any judge in Jamaica, or the United States, that has acted with integrity or acted judiciously to resolve this injustice,” he said in his statement.

Morrison is scheduled to face the court again on November 28 for the assessment, but is convinced that there is a strong possibility of another postponement.

“What bothers me the most now is that the Government of my country, which has robbed me of everything by its unlawful act in extraditing me, is now insulting and further dehumanising me by this small offer for compensation,” Morrison said.

“So, I am hoping that [the] chief justice, Mr Bryan Sykes, will assure that the matter is adjudicated this time, and that none of the games they have played in the past are repeated,” he stated.

“These honourable people should have learnt by now there is no right way to do the wrong thing, and stop the games. And remove this stain from Jamaica's international reputation and restore integrity to the justice system of Jamaica by doing the right thing this time,” he added.

The 2004 MoU which Chang has said the Supreme Court ruled was inadequate figured prominently in the extradition of Christopher “Dudus” Coke in 2010.

Coke had been profiled as inheriting leadership of the Shower Posse from his father, the late Lester “Jim Brown” Coke, who died while in detention in Jamaica awaiting extradition in 1992.

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