Opposition demands proof of MOU court ruling

The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) says it is stumped by Tuesday’s revelation by National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang that the Supreme Court had ruled that Operation Anthem – the Peter Phillips-era electronic surveillance memoranda of understanding (MOUs) – were unconstitutional and is calling on the Government to produce a copy of the judgment.

It is unclear whether Jamaicans extradited under the MOUs might have a lifeline to file suits against the State.

“I have not seen any judgment, and I know of no instance where anything could be determined to be unconstitutional in chambers. That would be a matter for the Constitutional Court. So either people are just speaking loosely or there is some other mystery that needs to be resolved,” said Phillips, the opposition leader, in an interview with The Gleaner yesterday.

In a subsequent press release, Opposition Spokesman on National Security Fitz Jackson called on Jamaica House to produce a copy of any ruling by Jamaica’s Constitutional Court that the information-sharing MOUs with the US, the United Kingdom, and Canada were rendered unconstitutional.

The South St Catherine member of Parliament said that both Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Chang misled the House when they said the MOUs had been “deemed” unconstitutional and their use had to be discontinued.

Jackson said legal research and enquiries at the court yesterday proved futile in finding any such ruling.

But in an interview on RJR’s ‘Beyond the Headlines’ yesterday evening, Chang sought to explain how the judgment came to be.

“The old MOU was found legally inadequate by the court in Jamaica, so nothing could be done under that operation again,” he said.

Host of the evening programme, Dionne Jackson-Miller, who is an attorney-at-law, asked if there had been a challenge to the MOU.

“How these operate if you dealing with a case, when the partner is to extradite someone from Jamaica, because that’s where the partner is … then you have to provide the evidence, and to provide the evidence, you have to go to the court to get a warrant that gives you permission to share the evidence. If the agreement that you have doesn’t satisfy the law, then the court throws it out, and that means that the agreement is null and void.”

Chang has not disclosed any details on the court matter – including the nature of the crime, the defendant, or the lawyers or judge involved – which was said to have been heard privately in chambers.

In the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Chang said the Supreme Court, in 2018, found that the MOUs were unconstitutional, describing it as “unsatisfactory and inadequate”.

Consequently, the national security minister said that the Government entered into a new agreement with the United States authorities on October 23.

The US Embassy in Kingston declined to speak on the matter when asked for comment.

Chang also said that the Holness administration was finalising an agreement with the United Kingdom, which will operate under a different protocol.

When contacted by The Gleaner, British high commissioner to Jamaica, Asif Ahmad, declined to comment.

“Until we have completed our discussions with the Jamaican Government, we will not be offering any public comment,” he said.


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