KINGSTON, Jamaica: An Opposition motion seeking to censure Attorney General and Minister of Justice Senator Dorothy Lightbourne for her actions prior to the extradition of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke has failed.
The motion brought by People’s National Party (PNP) Senator Sandrea Falconer was defeated 12-6.
The Opposition had accused Senator Lightbourne of using “spurious reasons and excuses” to delay signing the order to proceed with the extradition request and argued that her “mismanagement of the extradition process” has so severely impacted her trustworthiness and competence that she no longer enjoys the confidence of the Senate as minister.
The motion described Lightbourne’s actions as a direct assault upon the rule of law, showing scant respect for the proper administration of justice and demonstrating gross dereliction of ministerial responsibility.
Falconer had argued that “the Jamaican brand has been severely damaged by a narco state designation and travel advisories from several friendly states”.
“Jamaicans abroad and at home have been humiliated and their heads are bowed in shame,” said Falconer.
In defending her delay in signing off on the order to proceed with the process to extradite Coke after the request was made by the United States last August, Lightbourne said that her duty was to ensure that the request complied with the Extradition Treaty provisions, and that Coke’s rights as a Jamaican citizen were protected.
“What has sustained me is the knowledge that I discharged my duty with the utmost propriety and professionalism,” she said in the face of the no-confidence motion.
The administration had resisted going ahead with Coke’s extradition on the grounds that the U.S. illegally obtained evidence against the alleged drug and gun lord.
In an address to the nation on May 17, Prime Minister Bruce Golding said Lightbourne would sign the authorization for the extradition process to commence.
However, Lightbourne sought to make it clear that her eventual decision to sign the extradition order was not based on directions from Golding.
“Having gauged the growing level of public mistrust and the expressed intention of key institutions/organizations not to interact with the government if the extradition matter remained unresolved, I decided that the looming public interest concerns compelled the exercise of my executive discretion to resolve the matter,” said Lightbourne. “Consequently, I advised Cabinet that I would be signing the authority to proceed and did so on May 18, 2010.”
Coke waived his right for an extradition trial in Jamaica after being caught on June 22, and was extradited to the U.S., where he is facing drug and gun running charges.