DEPUTY commissioner of police in charge of the crime and security portfolio Fitz Bailey and Reverend Devere Nugent have both urged the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) to stand firm amid public pressure in dealing with criminal justice.
The two were addressing a worship service at East Queen Street Baptist Church in Kingston on Sunday, which was used to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ODPP being observed under the theme 'Service above self — unyielding in the public interest'.
Bailey said working in the criminal justice system at this time is challenging, as social media has various "experts" who seem to have an upper hand in setting narratives.
"These so-called experts were never trained or worked in the field of the expertise yet they are countenanced by so many persons — even those we consider to be intellectuals. They seem to have greater insight and understanding than judges, prosecutors and law enforcers so the various offices are constantly placed under pressure — as public opinion matters in a democratic state," he said.
"As you celebrate your 60th anniversary, [in] your commitment to enforce the law as ministers of justice, without fear or favour, you cannot be distracted by this media rush and fake news. You must remain on the side of the law and not be influenced by particular constituencies. You cannot back down on transparency, the fight against injustice, and to stand up for the most vulnerable in society," he stated.
He stressed that the victims of crime expect prosecutors to stand up for them to ensure that they are treated with dignity as they go through the judicial process.
"The Jamaica Constabulary Force will continue to support the efforts and the work of the [Office] of the Director of Public Prosecutions as we seek to strengthen our partnership — which has never been so strong," he said.
Nugent, who heads East Queen Street Baptist Church, pointed to the theme, noting that it suggests the ODPP is going to remain unflinching, unrelenting, and unbending.
"The truth of the matter is, the pressures are real. Whether they are individual pressure, internal pressure or institutional pressures, we are facing the pressures of the hour. Yet, you have called us today to declare this 60th year. We are going to be unyielding," he affirmed.
Referencing Bible scripture Luke 23:26, Nugent urged the ODPP to be unyielding regardless of public scrutiny, public sensitivity, and public sensibilities.
"This is your 60th year; you have already skilfully navigated some of the atrocities of our times, you have led us to believe that there is always a greater good. But we know very well that at the end of the court case, when the cameras are no longer on you, we know very well when you are in your private moment, the burdens of which you have been called to do come upon you and come down on you, but if God has drawn you to it, if God has drawn you into it, then God will draw you through it," he said.
"You are going to be given extra burdens, additional demands, additional weight, but I beg you, for God's sake, hold on to your burdens, hold on to your weight. Hold on to your critiques and criticisms, for you have said 'We will remain unyielding'," he added.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn praised her staff for working with her to deliver quality service over the years, amid the difficulties.
"They have been the wind beneath my wings. I am not going to fool myself that as the first female DPP, the first one who didn't have any hair on her chest or have any beard, that I have not been tested by the media, by the police, by Independent Commission of Investigations, by the Office of the Contractor General, by the Court of Appeal, the judiciary," she said. "But, my back and our collective backs have been broad as we have risen above the challenges and endured the slings and arrows, as we have given excellent and quality service islandwide and internationally," she declared.
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