The Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal, JAMP, has called on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to fulfill an election campaign promise made in 2016, to have parliament pass legislation that allows for the impeachment of MPs.
The call comes on the heels of damning allegations of abuse leveled against Central Westmoreland Member of Parliament, George Wright.
JAMP Executive Director Jeanette Calder, noted that Mr. Wright’s leadership and moral fitness, have been called into question, due to the allegations.
Ms. Calder further noted that the matter is not only an internal Jamaica Labour Party one, but also one of national concern about the Jamaican society, and the need to have parliamentary accountability mechanisms, such as impeachment legislation.
She pointed out that former Prime Minister Bruce Golding had piloted the drafting and tabling of recommendations from the bi-partisan joint select committee into a constitution amendment impeachment bill, which would allow for impeachment proceedings against a public official.
One feature of that bill allowed for one thousand signatures of registered voters to initiate the process to remove a member of parliament.
In 2016, Mr. Holness, promised the electorate, that should he be elected to the Office of Prime Minister, he would, within the first 100 days of taking his oath of office, re-table the impeachment bill, as this would add another layer of protection of the parliament to ensure that only members of unquestioned integrity sit in the parliament.
Its been 5 years and that promise is yet to be fulfilled.
Ms. Calder said the allegations against Mr. Wright, and the public call for his removal, reinforce the need for the passage of impeachment legislation.
This process would hold parliamentarians to account for actions that render them unfit to hold public office or actions that bring Jamaica or its parliament into disrepute.
Current constitutional provisions only allow for an m–p to resign if guided by conscience, or if voted out of office by constituents.
If neither happens, Jamaicans are held to ransom, to tolerate the intolerable.
The Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal, therefore wants the Prime Minister to include the constitution amendment impeachment bill in the 2021/22 legislative agenda, to convene with urgency a joint select committee to review the bill taking into account the public’s views, and to debate then ensure enactment within the 2021/22 legislative year.
And the National Integrity Action, NIA has called for the impeachment bill to be tabled urgently.
In a statement today (April 17), the NIA said there can be no doubt that Mr. Wright should resign and that, by now, the JLP‘s disciplinary processes should have, after due process, applied the penalty of expulsion.
It is urging Justice Minister Delroy Chuck to promptly recommit the existing Impeachment Bill 2011, to a joint select committee, amend the definition of ‘impeachable offenses’ to include abuses such as allegedly committed by Mr. Wright, as well as retain the mechanism whereby members of the public are empowered to institute a charge of impeachment and cause public hearings to be commenced by parliamentary impeachment committee against an MP.