Jamaicans deserve a strong system of governance and national leaders who are inspired to work together to reshape our democracy as we look to a future strongly impacted by COVID-19 in much the same way the world was once changed by the 1918 pandemic.

It is evident that the concept of a democratic system of Government in which power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or through freely elected representatives is under attack, being allowed to languish, or being worn down in many places when what is needed worldwide is all hands on deck. Jamaica has struggled for decades to define and build a modern democracy, stumbling at times, but not stopping.

To be empowered, citizens require adequate civic knowledge to understand the processes and principles that are part of the national governance architectural fabric. Institutions such as the Office of the Political Ombudsman and other commissions of Parliament need to be strengthened to better address the issues that have confronted us as an evolving, independent country.

Every decade has brought new issues and changes. We must be bold in protecting gains and addressing the issues of the day. The media, the Church, civic organisations and State agencies can also hold those who are tasked to represent us to account, thereby strengthening democracy through good governance.

In respect to this, ethical leadership is vital where timely action on key issues is needed. This includes:

– strengthening of the Political Ombudsman (Interim) Act

– action on the Constitution (Amendment) (Impeachment) Bill

– quick, effective action when officials of political parties and their appointees to boards and committees breach laws and policies

– clarity on the period of loss of privileges where a decision is made to suspend or terminate a minister’s appointment or where an official has resigned. This should also be made public.

Jamaica needs a strengthened framework. One only needs to look at the fact that the Office of the Political Ombudsman is required to be ethical, fair, and neutral, yet political leaders may ignore the recommendations of the office with impunity, and the office can only independently enforce accountability for findings with mediation and moral suasion.

The Office of the Political Ombudsman is also concerned, like many Jamaicans, about the declining level of voter participation. This decline has been attributed by stakeholders and researchers to various causes, including:

– perceived corruption and disunity in the political sphere and governance

– political messages not being relevant to electors’ needs or interests

– failure of successive administrations to deliver on promises

– distrust of political parties

– politicians’ lack of accountability

– fear of being infected with the novel coronavirus

To counteract this trend we must hold those we love, support, or admire to standards worthy of a strong democracy in which citizens elect leaders to protect their rights and liberties, develop plans and implement SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) policies for the welfare of all. Goals and objectives that are SMART, as proposed since 1981 by late American Professor George T Doran, should be a critical requirement for every elected official and administration to earn citizens’ loyalty and support. We must remember, as we celebrate our heroes during this month, that they all fought, in their own way, to create a system of government that embodies these SMART policies.

Recently, youth from across the country were invited to participate in a video competition where they were asked to respond to the question: What does democracy mean to me? The competition was conducted by the Office of the Political Ombudsman and its youth outreach arm, Political Awareness and Respect Initiative (PARI).

The participants, in their entries, mentioned issues for which our national heroes fought:

– Inclusivity and accountability

– Rule of Law – basic principles of legality

– A voice for us all

How did we get here? Have we faltered on the path carved out by our national heroes? Have we discounted the work of our national leaders at home and abroad as they gave of themselves for Jamaica?

Civil society, which is one way in which the people collaborate to create agreed outcomes, has many lessons for parliamentarians and councillors as they demonstrate that people from different groups and ideologies can bring their strengths together for the greater good. Respect for the other team and the game means playing by the rules, thus avoiding red and yellow cards and providing a good experience for investors, spectators, young people, and stakeholders in general. This is within our capacity.

Ambivalence and retreat to the digital space to create messages and communities, especially in this novel coronavirus pandemic, is a feature of the digital age, which tends to create and facilitate factions, conflict, and defamation. This can harm the body politic, public health, and marginalise some citizens.

As Jamaicans, in this season of great uncertainty and constant change, now more than ever we must encourage integrity, service, respect, and inclusivity, which means less impunity and hostility, less breaches of the Joint Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct, the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA), and other laws and policies. In so doing, we will calm the voices of conflict and hostility which challenge our democracy and threaten our survival, leading to more safety, prosperity, and progress for the nation.

Corruption and the perception of corruption weaken our democracy as citizens move from sadness to disengagement and disgust. Jamaica is the biggest little country on Earth. Let us make, obey, and enforce laws to advance the ‘tallawah’ as we honour the legacy of our national heroes.


Donna Parchment Brown is the political ombudsman of Jamaica.


Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland, the first woman to hold the post, will headline today’s launch by the Office of the Political Ombudsman of a historic report reviewing the extraordinary 2020 General Elections Campaign.

Baroness Scotland was born in Dominica and is the second person from the Caribbean to serve as Commonwealth Secretary-General. As Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland is responsible for promoting and protecting the Commonwealth’s values, representing the Commonwealth publicly as well as the management of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The virtual event can be viewed on the O.P.O.’s Facebook Page beginning at 10am on June 2. www.facebook.com/JAPoliticalOmbudsman/

We are delighted Baroness Scotland has generously agreed to make herself available,” said Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown, adding that “given her experience as Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland has a wealth of experience to share about how countries like Jamaica can build and cement key democratic activities such as campaigning.”

The report to be launched on June 2 is the first of its kind in Jamaica’s history. “Next year, 2022, will mark the 20th anniversary of the Office of the Political Ombudsman,” explained Political Ombudsman Hon. Parchment Brown.  She added that “In that context, we are reviewing findings and recommendations from the 2020 general election campaign but also discussing the future role of the Political Ombudsman’s Office in relation to its mandate, funding and legislative changes.” The recommendations cover a range of other issues including political and civic education and the enforcement of rules for politics. In light of COVID-19, the report also examines how election campaign activities were conducted in the midst of the pandemic. The campaign review report was compiled from a series of fora hosted by the OPO last year. In addition, expert interviews were also conducted by the Office after the general election on September 3, 2020.


About the Office of the Political Ombudsman

The Office of Political Ombudsman is a Commission of Parliament established in 2002 to investigate any action taken by a political party, its members or supporters which constitutes, is likely to constitute a breach of the Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct in force among political parties in Jamaica or could prejudice good relations between supporters of various political parties.  The code is intended to promote a political culture which emphases the propriety, correctness, transparency and honesty of political parties, their officials and adherents behaviour.


Link to audio bites of the Political Ombudsman: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ihvXlJnB-c48sbuej2pmVXLLWdOnUQpa?usp=sharing



Archibald Gordon Communications

Email: archibald.gordon@gmail.com   876-294-1100.

Office of the Political Ombudsman

Email: politicalombudsman@opo.gov.jm 876 922-8653.


The Office of the Political Ombudsman is issuing the findings of its 2020 General Election Campaign Review Report a first in Jamaica’s history. This follows what can be considered the most unusual and difficult campaign period in the country’s recent past given the advent of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the first time implementation of the Campaign Finance Legislation.

The report will be launched during a virtual event on June 2, that will include recommendations for improvements to Jamaica’s election campaign activities, particularly those related to the Office of the Political Ombudsman (OPO).  The virtual event can be viewed on the O.P.O.’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/JAPoliticalOmbudsman/.

The campaign review report follows a review of the campaign through interviews with experts and other stakeholders conducted by the Office of the Political Ombudsman between October and November, after the September 3, 2020 General Elections. Findings, lessons learnt and recommendations for action emerged from the robust discussions and were used to compile the findings and recommendations found in the report.

“The recommendations cover a range of issues including the question of how election rules should be enforced, how sanctions/penalties should be applied, and the enforcement role of the Office of the Political Ombudsman,” said Political Ombudsman Hon. Donna Parchment Brown.

The Political Ombudsman said the report also addresses questions about the role of the Office over the coming years including funding and legislative support. “It discusses how we can cement the gains made since the OPO was established to monitor campaign activities which have in the past been subject to political violence,” she explained.

The 2020 general election campaign was held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic limiting face-to-face gatherings and that forced other changes to the general election campaign. Mrs. Parchment Brown said those issues are also addressed in the report given their historic impact on election campaign activities.

The opening speaker at the virtual event is the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Right Honourable Baroness Patricia Scotland who is the first woman to hold the post. The Commonwealth Secretary-General is responsible for promoting and protecting the Commonwealth’s values, representing the Commonwealth publicly as well as the management of the Commonwealth Secretariat.


About the Office of the Political Ombudsman:

The Office of Political Ombudsman is a Commission of Parliament established in 2002 to investigate any action taken by a political party, its members or supporters which constitutes, is likely to constitute a breach of the Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct in force among political parties in Jamaica or could prejudice good relations between supporters of various political parties.  The code is intended to promote a political culture which emphases the propriety, correctness, transparency and honesty of political parties, their officials and adherents behaviour.

Link to audio bites of the Political Ombudsman: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1eDZsNVd8Lz6Nznw-RlkIswPBlvTy-GH7?usp=sharing



Archibald Gordon Communications

Email: archibald.gordon@gmail.com   876-294-1100.

Office of the Political Ombudsman

Email: politicalombudsman@opo.gov.jm 876 922-8653.


The Office of the Political Ombudsman is a fair and neutral Commission of Parliament tasked with the duty to investigate breaches of the Code of Conduct by political party members and their supporters.

I unequivocally condemn the attack made against the political activist on the team of Mr. Pearnel Charles Jr. in Clarendon early this morning. I wish him a swift and complete recovery. I encourage all Jamaicans to be reminded of our motto “Out of Many One People” and for us to strive to remain grounded and unified.

It is with regret therefore, that I have to comment on the statements made by Mr. Charles Jr. this morning on Nationwide 90 FM. My statement is on twitter. That deplorable act of violence is to be condemned by all as I said earlier. In these times all candidates knowing the impact of statements they make should ensure that they do not undermine the public confidence in Jamaica’s democratic process when persons are already in a state of distrust.

I have already launched an investigation into the killing of Mr. Paul Henry and the JCF has issued a statement suggesting that they are also pursuing several leads not related to politics. The attack this morning to another JLP worker is being investigated by this Office and the Police.

I will be on the ground this week.

An article in the daily Gleaner of August 17, 2020 refers.

I received a report on the matter from Councillor McDonald of the Toll Gate division on Saturday

August 15 at 8:56 p.m. He advised that the JLP candidate for Clarendon South Western, Mr Kent Gammon and his party was prevented from campaigning in Havanna Heights by PNP supporters who were in the road shouting and making it hard for vehicles to go through. I met with candidate Mr Cousins by telephone at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday August 16. He confirmed that the conduct of supporters was unacceptable and that he had visited the community and advised the citizens that all candidates and their supporters should be free to enter the community and should not be impeded in any way.

Mr Cousins agreed to advise Councillor McDonald of the corrective action taken. The Office of the Political Ombudsman informed Councillor McDonald, who was aware that Mr Cousins had visited the area of this incident, at 4:06 p.m. on Sunday August 16. There was no report of any physical threat against any individual.

The matter is closed.

I recently had a conversation with a gentleman who stoutly defended the practice of ‘vote buying’ as simply voters taking advantage of a business opportunity.

Previously I have spoken to a few other Jamaicans who asserted that they only want their $5,000 payment and that corruption is not a big deal.

Jamaica’s political leaders in the Parliament have passed legislation to assert their opposition to corruption, to vote buying by whatever means and to make such actions subject to fines and penalties, as well as promoting a Code for corrective actions by political party leaders on the Recommendation of the Political Ombudsman under the Political Ombudsman (Interim) Act, which can be viewed at www.opo.gov.jm.

Corruption simply means doing or failing to do any act so as to obtain an illicit benefit for the person or someone else.

Corruption, according to a recent poll is only of concern to 7% of the public. This either means that the moral, ethical, social and economic eyes of our people are not working or we are resigned to become a country where wrong doing by the ‘bigger heads’ is fine and we accept our position as being unworthy of the respect and honest service of those we elect and employ.

Each case must be looked at and dealt with forcefully and without excuse. Reference to how previous or other acts of stealing from the public of our money, our land, our equipment, our rights is a red herring or smoke screen which lines up partisan interest and responses so to prevent full action.

The Representation of the People Act (www.japarliament.gov.jm) which had the support of both major political parties in its passage through Parliament, provides at S70 for a number of election offences.

Section 91 makes bribery treating and undue influence, offences punishable on summary conviction before a Resident Magistrate (now Parish Judge).

The penalty at S93 for each offence is a fine of between twenty thousand and eighty thousand dollars or imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term of three to five years.

Bribery S91 – including (directly or indirectly by yourself or an agent) means inducing– any person to vote or refrain from voting in exchange for a benefit.

Treating S91 – includes every elector who corruptly accepts food, drink, entertainment or provision in exchange for voting or refraining from voting.

Undue Influence S94 – includes impeding or preventing free exercise of the right of any person to vote by threat, force, duress etc.

These provisions give legal force to the provision set out at Apendix 1 in the Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct (Code), www.opo.gov.jm which provides inter alia:

85a Duke Street, Kingston, Jamaica, Tel. 876 922-8653/922-0317 Email: politicalombudsman@opo.gov.jm NEW www.opo.gov.jm

1.(f)(i) Candidates or others acting on behalf of candidates:

Must not use funds derived from any source, public or private to improperly influence electoral choices

The use of unauthorized public and road works such as playfields, bushing, marling are opportunities for candidates and their surrogates to put money into the hands of potential voters under the guise of employment and to suggest to the voters that road and other works are a down payment being done to encourage them to select the candidate involved.

These actions and other breaches of the Code and law, should be reported to the Political Ombudsman, the Electoral Commission, Integrity Commission or the Police as appropriate, so that action can be taken through party leaders and the Courts to hold those in breach to account.

I wish every Jamaican a renewed sense of confidence, honour and duty towards Jamaica Land We Love as we celebrate our Emancipation and Independence.

The OPO believes that every citizen has the responsibility to participate in the building of a free and just society, rooted in the central and uninfringeable dignity of a person. The youth, as part of the citizenry, must have a voice in decisions that affect them and as they become stakeholders and change agents in their communities and organizations, they bring perspectives, knowledge and relationships that lead to better decisions and more productive action.

Jamaica has a wealth of social and national organisations dedicated to promoting youth interests. These organizations form a network of knowledge sharing and learning. It is through youth engagement that the skills of active citizenship that contributes positively to the strengthening of society are taught.

The Political Awareness and Respect Initiative (PARI), is a key element of the Office of the Political Ombudsman’s (OPO) public outreach campaign, and comprises a team of young people who have agreed to collaborate with the OPO in undertaking to engage with their peers to work towards strengthening Jamaica’s democratic architecture, as well as to get them to speak on issues around politics, democracy, good governance and the Rule of Law.

Among the fundamental expectations of the collaboration are:

  • An increased public awareness of the Office of the Political Ombudsman and its mandate.
  • Building and strengthening partnerships with other youth organizations, national groups and informal associations.
  • Promoting youth participation in governance


PARI was developed jointly by the OPO and key youth leaders following consultations since 2016. PARI members were selected from social and national groups the three counties of the island, Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey. These groups included the National Youth Parliament of Jamaica (NYPJ), National Youth Council of Jamaica (NYCJ) and the Student Unions from numerous Universities. The main criteria in considering eligibility for membership is age. A potential member must be between the ages of 17years to 30 years.

In March 2020 the group met and established Rules of Engagement, Expectations and Key Strategies for advancement.


Rules of Engagement

The following were agreed on:

  • Meetings to be held once monthly
  • A Whatsapp group created to facilitate communication outside of meeting times.
  • Correspondences to be sent via email following notices in the Whatsapp group.
  • To actively engage with the various social media platforms and website of the OPO.


Key Strategies:

  • A 4 week listening tour (face-to-face and on social media platforms), to ascertain the needs and interests of target audiences;
  • An outreach program focused on soft-selling key messages about democracy through group engagement (Quizzes and Sketches)
  • Training for PARI leaders on effective presentation skills, active listening and reporting.


Action Points:

  • To strengthen partnership between the Office of the Political Ombudsman and the Commonwealth Secretariat
  • Engage in strengthening democracy
  • Assist youths in learning to build up institutions

Candidates for March 2 By-Election sign Political Code of Conduct

Candidates for the upcoming by-election in the constituency of Clarendon South Eastern affirmed their commitment to good governance and to fair campaigning by today signing the Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct (the Code).

Messrs Pearnel Charles Jr, Jamaica Labour Party and Dereck Lambert, running as an Independent, both signed the code, along with their campaign managers.

The Code governs the actions of both of the major political parties and all other legitimate political parties in Jamaica. It applies to all political players.

Mr Stanhope Porteous, Justice of the Peace officiated at the ceremony, joining Jamaica’s Political Ombudsman the Hon. Donna Parchment Brown.

“As an independent and neutral Commission of Parliament, it is the OPO’s job to hold politicians to account on behalf of Jamaicans,” Mrs. Parchment Brown said. “These standards which they are committing to uphold reflect the very best in political behaviour, which all political actors should strive for, on behalf of the voting public.”

The Office of the Political Ombudsman is responsible for promoting and ensuring that standards in politics are understood and followed. In 2020, the Office is expanding an awareness campaign to youth and developing a social media guide to act as a supplement to the Code of Conduct.