It is important to point out, however, that Section 94 related to a time and context where the world was a different place. In the 21st century, the world is interconnected because of the information highway known as the internet, development and movement of professional skills across borders and of course, globalisation. The Office therefore wields extraordinary power which can exert significant influence on the liberty and the lives of citizens. Since 1962, there has been an explosion of media outlets, the phenomena of the talk show and the increased forthrightness of Human Rights Organisations both here and abroad have ensured that members of the public from every strata of society know their rights and are prepared to assert these rights either through the courts or by “blocking the roads.” These developments therefore demand that the public’s clamour for transparency and accountability from all institutions has to be answered positively by all of the State’s institutions including our Office.
The prosecutors within the Office do not expect to be exempt from public scrutiny nor should they be shielded from being accountable to the public. Independence of the Office can co-exist comfortably with accountability. But what is the context in 2011 within which prosecutors have to perform their functions? What context does the administration of justice and all its stakeholders have to operate within?
Since 1962 there has been a significant rise in the crime rate, the frequency and callous disregard for law and order not only from civilian offenders but from members of law enforcement. The consideration of the rate and escalation of crime on the one hand reflect frightening murder statistics which caused “the Economist” to refer to Jamaica as ‘the murder capital of the world’ and on the other hand, we have a frightening escalation of police fatal shootings of civilians.
In the middle we have the judges, defence attorneys, witnesses and then we have our Office which has to interface with all these stakeholders to effectively undertake its constitutional duties. It was Theodore Roosevelt, one of the United States of America’ great Presidents who said:
“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”
In Jamaica, crime can be likened to the multi-headed hydra of Greek mythology where you cut off one head and several more grow back in its place. We cannot afford to do nothing.
Afterall, one of our mandate for the 21st Century is that of inspiring the confidence of the communities we serve, by:
“Being visible, open and accountable for our decisions; being responsive to the needs of the community and providing a valuable public service; being seen as the decision makers who decide which case should be brought to court and bringing them to justice.”