Llewellyn gets three more years as DPP

Llewellyn gets three more years as DPP

Thursday, July 09, 2020

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness yesterday dismissed objections raised by Opposition leader Dr Peter Phillips to an extension of the tenure of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn, and announced that he was pushing ahead with a recommendation to the governor general for a three-year extension of her position.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips wrote to Governor General Sir Patrick Allen in March, citing a poor track record of corruption prosecutions by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), according to a Gleaner report this week.

At a press conference held yesterday at Jamaica House to announce a zone of special operations for the St Andrew community of August Town, Holness said the airing of the matter in the public domain was unfortunate and that it complicated the situation. The newspaper report said the Opposition leader in his submission to Sir Patrick, had cited “many deficiencies” in the conduct of the Office of the DPP over the past 12 years.

“The convention that has happened is that these matters are not drawn into public debate...it is unfortunate that this matter has reached into the public domain,” Holness stated. The prime minister said that after consultation with the governor general, and Dr Phillips, he made the recommendation for a three-year extension of Llewellyn's service. Under the Constitution, the extension cannot exceed five years.

“It was important to ensure that the office had enough time to prepare for transition and management and I believe that the present DPP has done excellent work; generally most persons would agree that the current DPP has done a fairly good job in building out the office of the DPP, not just in the execution of her role but in terms of strengthening the institution itself. The Government, after consultations, decided to extend her term of service for another three years. Looking at it from a public good point of view I don't believe any harm has been done and I think that the expression of confidence in the work of the DPP will ensure that the public continues to be well served,” the prime minister said.

Furthermore, he stated that he was not convinced by the Opposition leader's view that an incoming administration should not in any way be tied to the existing DPP, as that position, “undermines the Constitution and authority of the office. I found that to be an unfortunate statement”.

Constitutionally, the DPP's tenure should end at the age of 60, but an extension can be granted before the DPP attains the retirement age, by way of the governor general, acting on the recommendation of the prime minister in consultation with the Opposition leader.

Llewellyn who turns 60 in September, is the first woman to be appointed to the Office of the DPP, taking over the post from Kent Pantry in 2008, having served as deputy director of public prosecutions. She started out as a clerk of the court in the St James Parish Court in 1984 and was later promoted to crown counsel at the ODPP, and seven years later she was appointed deputy DPP. By 2003 she had became the first female to be appointed in the position of senior deputy director of public prosecutions.

Over the past decade, Llewellyn has led the charge on criminal prosecutions in notable major cases such as the now infamous Kadijah “Vybz Kartel” murder case in 2014, which led to a 35-year prison sentence for the dancehall artiste. Llewellyn also led the prosecution's case in the six-year corruption trial of Kern Spencer, former state minister for energy, for his role in the distribution of energy-saving light bulbs donated to Jamaica by the Cuban Government. Spencer was freed.

The DPP, who has over the years championed the call for more prosecutors for the ODPP, also oversaw the publication of the island's first manual for prosecutors in 2016, stating in her foreword that upon her appointment in March 2008 she was “fully aware of the public's clamour for transparency and accountability and I will certainly be moving along with my team to enhance the managerial structure and to put in place systems which will help to assist in respect of this transparency and accountability”. The DPP said the manual was another step in the process of providing that promised fuller transparency.

— Alphea Saunders

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