New public defender on a mission to reimage office
Gvoernor General Sir Patrick Allen (right) presents King's Counsel and newly appointed public defender, Carolyn Reid-Cameron with the Instrument of Appointment during her September 1 swearing-in ceremony at King's House.JIS

NEWLY minted public defender King's Counsel Carolyn Reid-Cameron says included in her vision for that office are measures that will make it more efficient and much more 'visible'.

Speaking recently during a justices of the peace virtual sensitisation session, Reid-Cameron, who was sworn in earlier this month succeeding attorney-at-law Arlene Harrison Henry, who retired in April, said she had identified several areas as a priority.

"I have come into an office, and I am trying to find my way to my desk as it is. I have managed to find my way to my desk and there are some visions that I have for this office which will make it more efficient and make it treat cases in a more expedient way," Reid-Cameron, who is the second woman to be appointed to the post, said.

Part of that she said includes digitising the systems at that office to allow individuals to, for example, make complaints online without visiting the physical location.

"Digitising so that if needs be when the public wants information they can go online and get the information that they want from this office," Reid-Cameron noted.

In addition, she said during her tenure she would be "treating with the systems that are actually in this office to make us take a shorter time to do our investigations in an efficient manner".

In the meantime, noting that the session was one method of making the office "much more visible", Reid-Cameron said, "I am slowly learning that a lot of people are not aware of what we do and our existence".

She further reminded Jamaicans that the office stands ready to act in their best interest.

"We have had a number of things happening in recent times which I am not going to comment on publicly; but if it is that it is listed as a right within your Charter of Rights that each and every one of us is entitled to and that right is being breached by any State agency then it is a situation that is ripe for investigation by the Public Defender," she said.

The Public Defender reiterated her commitment to undertaking the necessary reforms to ensure that the office will be compliant with the Data Protection Act which was passed in 2020.

She said this was to make it so "anybody who interacts with this office will be protected".

The Office of the Public Defender was established in 2000 to investigate and seek redress on behalf of Jamaicans whose constitutional rights have been violated.

Reid-Cameron previously served as deputy director of public prosecutions before she entered private practice in 1996.

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter dunkleywillisa@jamaicaobserver.com

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