Member of Parliament for St Andrew South Eastern, Julian Robinson, has accused the Government of compromising the independence of the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).
The accusation follows Tuesday’s amendments to sections 96(1) and 121(1) of the constitution. The amendments move the retirement age for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Auditor General (AG) from 60 to 65.
Both DPP Paula Llewellyn and AG Pamela Monroe Ellis could now remain in office until age 70 as the governor-general, under special circumstances, could further extend the retirement age for the office holder.
Robinson was highly critical of the way the Government went about making the changes in the House of Representatives.
“In addition to the lack of consultation with the Opposition leader, there is need for consultation more broadly within the society to determine the appropriateness of these amendments,” he said during his contribution to the debate.
As it relates to the DPP, Robinson argued that “it is very important that both the perception and the reality of independence of that office and impartiality be maintained”.
“It cannot be right for the executive arm of the government to be rushing through Parliament, with no notice, an extension of the office holder of the DPP. You are compromising the independence of the office by doing so. As such, the perception will arise that the incumbent (Llewellyn), who’s the beneficiary of this extension, will be somehow beholden to the executive. It is wrong. It is absolutely wrong,” Robinson declared.
Robinson also pointed out that across the world, including the Commonwealth, countries are moving to fixed terms for their auditor general.
“The benefit of a fixed term is that the person knows that at the end of a period, regardless of decisions they may take [they are safe],” Robinson argued.
He said this was necessary as both the DPP and AG deal with very sensitive matters related to public officials.
“On the issue of process, the process is wrong. Secondly, we’re going against the grain of good governance where more countries are moving to fixed terms for holders of this (AG’s) office and third, we’re compromising the independence and impartiality of the office of DPP by doing it in this manner,” Robinson told the House.