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JM | Sep 17, 2022

Not again! Malahoo Forte reveals her ineptitude with Rocky Meade misstep

/ Our Today

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Attorney-General of Jamaica, Marlene Malahoo Forte. (Photo: Twitter @AndrewHolnessJM)

The competence of the Minister of Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte is again being called into question as the Government left with a lot of egg on its face with its appointment of former Lieutenant General Rocky Meade as Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Public Service.

The decision to go ahead with the appointment clearly shows that Malahoo Forte in her present capacity is not au fait with the Jamaican Constitution.

Section 92 (1) of the Constitution clearly states that the person appointed Cabinet Secretary must come from the public service from a list of public officers submitted by the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Meade, a career military man who rose to the very top, retired in January of this year.

This escaped Malahoo Forte’s attention, as the minister responsible for constitutional matters. She revealed a lack of a fulsome understanding of what can and cannot be done.

Brought to his attention, Meade immediately declined the appointment, issuing a statement that read: “I was advised by the Office of the Cabinet that I would receive a letter of appointment, from His Excellency the Governor General, through the Office of the Services Commission, for the post of Cabinet Secretary on the recommendation of the Prime Minister with input from the Public Services Commission.

 After almost four decades of service to the people of Jamaica, I was convinced to continue to serve and had initially indicated my intention to accept the offer.

Rocky Meade

Although I was invited by the Public Services Commission to be considered for the post while I was still a serving officer, the current public discourse does not provide a sufficiently settled environment for the assumption of such a significant office and I will therefore seek His Excellencies’ understanding of my decision to decline.

I would again like to thank His Excellency the Governor General, the Most Honourable Prime Minister and the Public Services Commission for the consideration and confidence and appreciate their understanding of my position.”

Meade is a man of impeccable reputation and character and his statement comes as no surprise.

Responding to this state of confusion and high embarrassment Opposition Spokesperson on Justice, Donna Scott Mottley said: “It (The Government) has several arms to which we pay lots of money in taxes to advise it, and yet it continues to blunder in too many instances where the Constitution, the laws, and national regulations and provisions are concerned, putting people like Rocky Meade in an embarrassing position.”

Robert Campbell formerly of the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service, speaking with Our Today, commented, “It’s not the first time that Marlene Malahoo Forte’s abilities have come under scrutiny. Many Jamaican lawyers have doubts about her as a top jurist. She is the leading authority on the Constitution but does not know what is in the Constitution. This is appalling from a QC at that.

Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Marlene Malahoo Forte, giving remarks at the ‘State of Justice: Examining Human Rights and Rule of Law in Jamaica’ report launch in New Kingston on Wednesday (March 30, 2022). The report was published by human rights lobby Jamaicans for Justice. (Photo: Facebook @JamaicansForJustice)

Not too long ago, she displayed a disturbing lack of understanding of the law in relation to the proposed new Bail Act. She vociferously championed that if one is charged with murder or in illegal possession of a firearm, then said person would not be entitled to bail.

If you on murder charge you cannot be at large and if yuh on gun charge yuh cannot be at large,” she proclaimed stridently in parliament.

But what about the fundamental constitutional right that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law? Linton Gordon has drawn attention to this, yet Forte is blithely unaware of this sacred tenet of the law. How can this be from one of Jamaica’s top legal officers, someone who is supposed to be one of the country’s top legal luminaries?

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