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Former Security Minister Montague rejects claims of impropriety in FLA appeal decision

Friday, August 10, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Former Minister of Security, Robert Montague is seeking to clarify suggestions of impropriety with regards to his decision, when he was the Security Minister to return a firearm license to a holder after it was reportedly turned down by the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) twice before.

Montague, in a release today rejected suggestions he said were made in a report on national television yesterday and described it as “incredulous reporting”.

The report raised questions as to why the minister sought to grant the license to a “man of questionable character” after it was turned down by the FLA board twice before.

However, Montague is insisting that all decisions made by him while occupying the post of Minister of National Security were in the interest of that portfolio and the safety & security of all Jamaicans.

He pointed out that Clauses 37 & 37 A of the Firearms Act outlined the process of appeals and explicitly gives the minister the final determination as to Permits for Firearms.

Montague informed that a committee of six persons “very senior within the National Security framework”, sat as a part of the appeals panel and that all decisions to grant permits after appeals heard had to be unanimous.

See full unedited statement below:

Statements have been made aired on TVJ nightly news which made assertions regarding the return of a firearm license subsequent to an appeal heard by Minister Robert Montague in his capacity as National Security Minister. The Minister strongly rejects any suggestion of impropriety and wishes to make it clear that all decisions made by him while occupying the post of Minister of National security were in the interest of that portfolio and the safety & security of all Jamaicans.

The Process & Status of Fire arm license appeals in Jamaica:

Minister Montague in a recent press conference hosted at is 138 Maxfield avenue offices on August 10, 2018 stated that,

“In March 2016 I found a significant number of cases, unreviewed (over 350). As such I had a Lawyer with a team hired to assist in the review of these appeal cases which were languishing. This I announced in Parliament as a part of my maiden contribution to the Sectoral debate.”

The Minister wishes to make the following points clear:

Fact #1

Clauses 37, & 37 A of the Firearms Act (attached) outlines the process of appeals. It explicitly gives the Minister the final determination as to Permits for Firearms.

As Minister he took the policy decision to improve the Governance of this process.
He empaneled a committee of six persons, very senior within the National Security framework, to sit as a part of the appeals panel.

An important facet of this committee is that all decisions to grant permits after appeals heard had to be unanimous. No deviation to this principle which took place.

Fact #2

During his tenure as National Security Minister 209 cases were reviewed and 29 licenses granted by this Panel.

Fact #3

The case in question involving the person discussed in the story, was no different, as to his appeals process. The review panel unanimously recommended the reinstatement of the license. Important to note the license had been issued previously by the previous administration, and subsequently revoked. It is the appeal which was referred to him as Minister.

Fact #4
The person in question had been charged previously under the lottery scamming legislation. The charges were thrown out by the Courts as no evidence was provided. Subsequently the police officer, who had charged the person in question, was alleged to be corrupt and was separated from Police force.

Fact #5
The person in question is from the Constituency of Western St Mary that the minister represents as Member of Parliament, though not relevant, the minister finds it important to provide all pertinent information to the Country, which he can responsibly provide. In essence providing details as opposed to allowing rumors prevail.

Fact #6

The person in question (making the appeal) became a “National Security Asset”. The information provided by him regarding the FLA, unearthed scandalous issues which were associated with the entity. Proof of these issues was provided by him, and actions have been taken since, including FLA personnel being fired and arrested, along with licenses being revoked.

Incredulous Reporting

It is also important to note that this matter has been ventilated with the Contractor General in the past, based on assertion from the Police Officer in question.

The reporting of this story is incredulous. When the ATI request was sent by Milton Walker, the status of the individual as a National Security Asset was disclosed, with the expectation of it being private.

The process of appeals was also laid out to him in a private meeting by a senior Ministry official. The reporting on this matter is irresponsible and has sent a troubling signal to other “National Security Assets”. The person in question has since voluntarily relocated outside of Jamaica because of personal security concerns, as such his gun license has since been revoked.

The interaction with Mr. Walker and the Ministry of National Security will be compile formal complaints lodged with Mr. Gary Allen, MD of the RJR/Gleaner Group, the Press Association of Jamaica and other Civil Society Organizations. This represents in the Minister's opinion, at its minimum, gross journalistic irresponsibility.

Fire Arms Act

37.(1) Subject to this section and section 37A, any aggrieved party may within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner apply to the Review Board for the review of a decision of the Authority-
(a) refusing to grant any application for a licence, certificate or permit; or
(b) amending or refusing to amend any licence, certificate or permit; or
(c) revoking or refusing to revoke any licence, certificate or permit; or
(d) refusing to grant any exemption pursuant to subsection (3) of section 35A or any certificate pursuant to sub- section (4) of section 35A.
(1A) Where any aggrieved party applies for the review of a decision of the Authority pursuant to paragraph (d) of subsection (I), the firearm or ammunition in relation to which the review is sought may be retained by the holder of a licence, certificate or permit in respect thereof until such time as the review has been determined.
(1B) Every person who pursuant to subsection (1) applies for the review of a decision of the Authority shall at the time of making the application pay the prescribed fee.
(2) [DeletedbyAct26/2005.]
(3) In this section the expression "aggrieved party" means the applicant for or the holder of any licence, certificate, exemption or permit in respect of the refusal to grant or the amendment or the revocation of which an application for review is made and the owner of the firearm or ammunition to which
such application, licence, certificate or permit relates. (4) [DeletedbyAct26/2005.]
37A. (1) For the purpose of a review under section 37, there Review
is hereby established a Review Board consisting of persons
appointed by the Minister in accordance with the Fourth s.20
(2) The Review Board appointed under subsection (1) shall within ninety days of receiving an application for review-
(a) hear, receive and examine the evidence in the matter under review; and
(b) submit to the Minister, for his determination, a written report of its findings and recommendations.
(3) The Minister upon receipt and consideration of the reports of the Review Board shall give to the Authority such directions as the Minister may think fit.
(4) Where the Review Board fails to comply with subsection (2), the Minister may hear and determine the matter under review.

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