Bunting says some things will remain secret

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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MINISTER of National Security Peter Bunting says he was not surprised by the decision of commissioner of police, Owen Ellington, to take early retirement.

"The job of commissioner in a country with one of the highest crime rates in the world is extremely tough and demanding," the minister told the House of Representatives, yesterday.

But Bunting refused to reveal any further detail about Ellington's sudden departure which has split the nation down the middle as to whether to give credence to the reasons he has left the job as boss of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), or to dismiss them as incredulous.

Bunting said he was aware that expectations were high for disclosure, as well as information "the media and elsewhere" would have liked him to address, but refused to go beyond what was already stated on the basis that "it is an international norm for certain information related to national security to be classified".

He said that this was particularly so when it concerns plans, weapons or operations; the capabilities of systems; foreign government information or diplomatic communication; or intelligence activities.

He did not say which of the concerns had sealed his lips. He also refused to offer details on questions raised by Opposition Spokesman on National Security Derrick Smith, on whether Jamaica's "international partners" shared in Ellington's departure, by raising the point that many of the matters dealt with by him, as minister of national security, were "secret" in their nature.

"The Honourable House will appreciate that many matters dealt with by a minister of national security are in their nature secret. In such cases, it would be irresponsible to disclose this information publicly," Bunting said.

Turning to the House's Standing Orders for support, he added that "Even questions on such matters are prohibited by Standing Order 16 (1) which states: A question shall not be asked seeking information about matters which are in their nature secret. Therefore, as we proceed with questions and follow-up questions, there will be limits on what I will disclose," he told the House.

"If there was ever a non-statement, based on expectations, this is in fact a non-statement," Smith responded, after the minister had concluded his statement.

The Opposition spokesman said that "the people of our country deserve some respect from their Government". He said that the country was expecting more from the statement and neither the people nor the Opposition believe the reasons that were given by the commissioner for departing.




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