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Phillips says request for update on investigations at gov't entities not suggesting interference

Dr. Peter Phillips and Dr. Horace Chang
 
Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips has said his statement Monday calling for an update on investigations at several government ministries was not suggestive of interference.
 
Dr. Phillips on Monday issued a 30-day ultimatum for release of the information.
 
National Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang, who is in charge of the government while Prime Minister Andrew Holness is overseas, described the prompt by Dr. Phillips as a call for the government to undermine the credibility and authority of independent bodies.
 
Dr. Phillips has rejected that interpretation, however, asserting that the Opposition was not seeking operational details on the investigations. 
 
"The country has a right to know whether they have abandoned the investigations and that, therefore, no one is going to be arrested for any misuse of public funds; and if the investigations are to be abandoned, we need to know why they have been abandoned and what are the impediments to their conclusions.... At the same time, if the investigations are still underway, the public deserves to know what kind of timeline is in place for their conclusion. It might not happen, but we still have a right to know," he suggested. 
 
Dr. Phillips said it is a regular feature of police departments internationally, such as Scotland Yard in London, the New York City Police Department and the Royal Canadian Metro Police, to provide updates on their probes.
 
He wants local investigative bodies to follow their lead and report to the general population in Jamaica. 
 
Dangerous precedent 
 
In sharp contrast, the National Security Minister has said the Government would set a dangerous precedent if it forces anti-corruption bodies probing allegations of impropriety at agencies of the Ministry of Education, to speak on the investigations before they are ready.
 
Dr. Chang on Tuesday told The Morning Agenda on Power 106 that the bodies must be allowed to conduct their probes for as long as necessary without interference. 
 
"Let them carry out their job. If they don't do their job, we must change the law and change the personnel," he argued. 
 
But Morning Agenda host Jodie-Ann Quarrie questioned how the minister and country would know whether the investigative bodies are doing their jobs if no update is provided.
 
"I am confident that...some of the investigations may take long, some will not take so long (but) the bodies are pursuing them because they are of public interest and they will come forward with their investigation," he responded. 
 
It was suggested to him whether it would have been more appropriate for the Opposition to send the requests for an update directly to the investigative bodies. 
 
However, Dr. Chang said he did not see any value in the political directorate or civil society members asking for updates from the investigative bodies. 
 
"MOCA is an investigative body; it's police. Nobody is going to be asking the police what is the status of an investigation," he retorted. 
 
 


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