Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Thursday | October 15, 2009
Home : Commentary
Let 'Dudus' have his day in court

Devon Dick

Recently, NEWSTALK had an informative programme about the extradition treaty between Jamaica and the USA as it relates to Christopher 'Dudus' Coke. The special guest was Douglas Leys, Jamaica's solicitor general, and the interviewers were Garnett Roper, president of the Jamaica Theological Seminary, and Prudence Kidds-Deans, former Jamaica Labour Party senator.

During the feature, it was explained that for the extradition treaty to be valid, a crime must have been committed in both the USA and Jamaica. In addition, the USA has to support its allegations to Jamaica. Additionally, there are specific, agreed items that must be satisfied before an extradition can be made and executed. Furthermore, the procedure is that a request is sent to Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne's desk who can sign the order that it be executed. The defendant can then challenge it in a Jamaican court of law and if Dudus proves that there is no prima facie case, then the order for extradition cannot be implemented. Furthermore, even after the resident magistrate has ruled that there is a prima facie case, Ms Lightbourne can refuse to sign the order based on perceived racial discrimination or political victimisation.

If that is the process, why is it taking approximately two months? We know that the advice of the solicitor general has been sought and given but not made public. And if there was a legal impediment based on his opinion, then the extradition would have been quashed. The uncertainty and doubt as to the when and how the matter will be dealt with can be a heavy load for him to carry. Therefore, let Dudus have his day in court.

Ms Lightbourne should sign the order and let the resident magistrate's court decide if there is a case for Dudus to answer in the USA. And while Dudus is having his day in court, the Government can deal with the political and racial considerations simultaneously.

Commit crimes in both countries

There is another worrying matter about this order and some other extradition requests. For the extradition request to be valid, the defendant has to commit a crime in Jamaica and the USA, then how come Dudus has never been charged for any of those serious crimes of drug trafficking and gun trade in Jamaica? The police have a question to answer.

There is a programme aired on BET titled 'American Gangster' in which Vivian Blake of the Shower Posse is interviewed. There is also a documentary on YouTube about the links between Jamaican politics and violence. However, these serious allegations are not aired on mainstream television. Dudus should have his day in court and let us hear his side of the story.

An attempt to search for the minutest technicality or squabble over interpretation and procedure or fear of partisan political fallout to deny an extradition order might appear to run counter to the spirit of the treaty and might have serious consequences for the viability of the Jamaican state as a place of law and order.

This case has serious socio-economic and political implications for Jamaica and as a Gleaner editorial hinted it will determine whether we are seen in the international community as a Somalia. Let us summon the courageous spirit of our national heroes and do the proper thing.

Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church and author of 'Rebellion to Riot: The Chuch in Nation Building'.

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