No longer 'chucking' it


No longer 'chucking' it

Justice minister still under pressure despite withdrawing 'inappropriate' comments


Friday, October 11, 2019

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Faced with a barrage of criticism over comments he made on Wednesday, following the arrest of his former Cabinet colleague Ruel Reid and four others on corruption charges, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck yesterday backtracked to muted applause from his Opposition counterpart, Senator Donna Scott-Mottley.

But the youth organisation of the People's National Party (PNP) continued its strident line, doubling down on its call for Chuck to resign over his comments which, he agreed, were inappropriate.

Chuck had questioned the decision by investigative agencies to carry out early-morning raids and cautioned the agencies to ensure that the evidence they are relying on to charge the five individuals was sufficient to successfully carry out a prosecution in the courts.

“What I said yesterday (Wednesday), in relation to the arrest of Ruel Reid, Fritz Pinnock and others, was inspired by the fact that the media was present at all locations during this early-morning raid,” Chuck told the Jamaica Observer.

“My daughter is one of the attorneys in the case [but] she and I lead separate independent professional lives. However, as justice minister my comments were inappropriate and I duly withdraw them in their entirety,” added Chuck, who had earlier told a National Integrity Action programme launch that he is opposed to corruption in all its forms.

“Speaking on behalf of the Government, we are committed to the rule of law to ensure that corruption is diminished and eventually removed from all ambit of governance [and] from all areas of the Jamaican society,” declared Chuck.

Responding to the retraction by Chuck, Scott-Mottley applauded him for his acceptance of his wrong move, but urged him to go further.

“I am happy that he has reflected on this matter and he has acted very swiftly in withdrawing his comments,” Scott-Mottley told the Observer.

“What I would say further is that there are some inappropriate tweets on the subject matter and I'm going to urge the justice minister to completely extricate himself from this situation and to ensure that there is absolutely no intervention at all so that he can preserve the dignity of his office,” said Scott-Mottley.

She argued that while Chuck has done the right thing by withdrawing the comments in good time, his decision-making was seriously flawed when he made them.

“He has given a reason for having gone over the top in his response, but other tweets which he has done suggest it is more than that. Even if he feels very deeply for his colleague, he has to be restrained and that is what I am urging him to do.

“He has to remember that he has an obligation to the public to ensure that the justice system, and matters such as this, are beyond reproach. So going forward I hope he remembers what his role is,” added Scott-Mottley.

But the PNP Youth Organisation (PNPYO), which had issued an early-morning call for Chuck's resignation, remained strident.

“The fact is, it cannot be unheard and it cannot be unsaid. In making the statements that he did, questioning the approach of the investigative team, challenging the motives, and whether the officers knew what they were looking for, and likening the execution of their duties to some form of victimisation, it suggested that he already has a prejudiced position on the matter,” said PNPYO President Krystal Tomlinson.

“That prejudiced position is now in the public, and there is no guarantee, from where we stand, that he will not seek further, whether in a personal or professional capacity, to make other utterances, or to take further action or inaction that would prejudice the process.

“I think as an exercise in good government, having established that there is a conflict here … the good thing to do, … to remove any further doubt about a conflict existing in the Cabinet while this matter is being heard, he should still resign from the post,” added Tomlinson.

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