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.


Kicking off a 2020 awareness building campaign, Jamaica’s Office of the Political Ombudsman (OPO) met today with the Jamaican Constabulary Force Liaison Officers from across the island.

The JCF Liaison Officers play a key role as the OPO’s partner, investigating potential breaches of the Code of Conduct, and keeping the OPO informed of queries and complaints lodged by the public.

Today’s meeting focused on the roles of both the Ombudsman and the JCF and how, together, they can work to promote political harmony and ensure adherence to the laws and the Code of Conduct that politicians created and agreed to abide by.

“It is our job, as a neutral and independent Commission of Parliament, to hold politicians accountable on behalf of all Jamaicans,” Mrs Parchment Brown said.  We can’t do this alone, we need to work closely with all of our partners and other community leaders, and that’s what today is all about – working together for a better Jamaica.”

JCF Liaison Officers reviewed the Code of Conduct, guidelines on how to best communicate with the Ombudsman’s Office, and how they can keep the OPO abreast of activities in their parishes.

Deputy Superintendent Williams, the Senior JCF Liaison to the OPO, attended the meeting and noted that “a key part of our work during campaigns and elections is making sure citizens and residents feel safe, and are aware of their rights, by sharing information with them about what they can expect from the JCF and the Office of the Ombudsman.”

The morning session was designed to sensitize JCF Liaison officers in advance of national and local campaigning and elections.

Abuja, Nigeria (October 30, 2019) – In a wide-ranging speech to the International Ombud Expo today, the Hon. Donna Parchment Brown, Jamaica’s Political Ombudsman, discussed her office’s plans to host a social media forum with experts from across Jamaica.  The event is slated for early in 2020, and supplements the Office’s plans to work more closely with youth by establishing a Youth Ambassadors program.

“This office supports freedom of expression as both healthy and vital for civil society and the continued strength of our democracy, “Mrs Parchment Brown said.

“Having said that, looking outside Jamaica, we can see that the broad reach of social media has had both benefits and challenges, which we need to address collectively in order to make the most of social media as an accessible, democratizing tool.”

Mrs Parchment Brown embraced a simplicity of language in discussing integrity, noting that ‘people are experts in their lives,’ and that the office exists, ‘so that the public can get the benefit of the resources that belong to them.’

The Ombudsman’s remarks were part of the three-day Expo 2019 which brought together more than 500 national and specialty ombud and grievance handling offices from over 100 countries, to facilitate better governance and improve performance in governments and organisations across the world.

In her remarks the Ombudsman pointed to recent research that noted that public distrust for politicians is high, with 75 per cent of respondents believing politicians in Jamaica are corrupt.  By engaging youth, experts in a range of fields, and developing partnerships, the Ombudsman said that a key priority is maintaining and restoring confidence in the institutions of government.

Montego Bay (October 18, 2019) –  All 100 members of Jamaica’s National Youth Parliament today signed the Agreement & Declaration on Political Conduct, informally known as ‘the Code,’ designed to enhance and promote standards in political life, in a ceremony presided over by Jamaica’s Political Ombudsman, the Hon. Donna Parchment Brown.

The ceremony was part of a four-day training session for youth organised jointly by the Ministry of Education Youth and Information, the Youth Advisory Committee of Jamaica and National Integrity Action.

“This Code is designed to set standards in politics for everyone in political life to endorse and follow,” Ms Parchment Brown noted. “We are very pleased that the youth of Jamaica – our young leaders – are making this commitment today.”

The Office of the Political Ombudsman is responsible for promoting and ensuring that standards in politics are understood and followed.  The OPO is continuing its outreach with youth groups and educational institutes to broaden awareness of its role in promoting standards in politics.  Copies of the code of conduct are available on the OPO website at

On September 20, 2019 the Office of the Political Ombudsman held a meeting with 17 youth leaders from across Jamaica. Click here to see what they discussed and what they are doing about it.


Over the last several weeks, Jamaicans have expressed various opinions on a tweet posted by the President of the People’s National Party Youth Organization, Ms. Krystal Tomlinson, which referenced actions by Jamaica’s Prime Minister as reminding her of Hitler.

Ms. Tomlinson issued an apology within hours, however, it did not find favour with the Jamaica Labour Party and Generation 2000, who wrote letters of complaint to the Political Ombudsman.

In the case of the Jamaica Labour Party, the letter also questioned whether it was not Ms. Tomlinson and her party who were in line with Hitler’s words “I use emotion…”

In a series of discussions with the Political Ombudsman involving the PNP’s General Secretary, Mr. Julian Robinson, Ms. Krystal Tomlinson and the JLP’s General Secretary, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, the seriousness of the charge and counter charge was highlighted.

Ms. Tomlinson reaffirmed her apology and her speedy action in removing the original tweet.  She expressed the view that there should be equitable treatment regarding the use of “Hitler”; that it be condemned and that all political actors commit to never using such a reference.

Dr. Chang spoke of the extreme distress caused by the remarks/tweet and the risk to the hard fought consensus on the practice of politics and protection from government abuse that both parties have accomplished following the era of political conflict/violence and fear.

The Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct at Standard #4 Public Utterances states:

Party officials (including platform speakers) should not make statements which:

  1. Are inflammatory or likely to incite others to confrontation or violence;
  2. Constitute slander or libel;
  3. Are malicious in reference to opposing candidates, their families and party officials.

The Political Ombudsman condemns Ms. Tomlinson’s original tweet which breached the Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct, and the response of Dr. Chang whose reference to the despised Nazi, was unwarranted and unhelpful in an apparent ‘tit for tat’ which also breached the Code.

I call on officials of our political organizations to act with restraint and wisdom to protect persons, such as the Prime Minister in the case of the original reference, political parties, our institutions, all office holders, their supporters and the public from harm.

The references to the most despised leader of the 20th century were unnecessary and unhelpful and have fomented harm in the public space.  Civil discourse on matters of public interest must not include name calling or harmful references.

“Let’s draw the line in the sand now”

Jamaica’s last General Elections were held February 2016 followed by the national Local Government Elections and several By Elections in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

We are now midway in the 5 year General Election cycle and it behooves us as citizens, candidates and political parties to know the legal landscape and to act accordingly.

The Representation of the People Amendment Act 2016, has established some obligations and offences relating to Campaign Finance Reform, of which all Jamaicans must be aware.

These herald the political parties’ clear statement of a desire for a political architecture which will promote integrity and reduce “capture” by persons and institutions. The law is underpinned by the Election Campaign Legislation & Regulations 2017.

Political Parties should educate their members and candidates.

I adopt the words of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica in her forward to their publication on the aforementioned Legislation and Regulations, where she noted:
“We believe that campaign financing reform is key to Jamaica’s Vision 2030 goal of accountability and transparency in governance” and “…what is more important, is that all stakeholders embrace, uphold and demand the enforcement of its provision so that we, as a nation, may realize the true benefits within…”.

Part VII of the Representation of the People Act, establishes election offences and at:
Section 81, addresses Notice of Election Meetings and requires that during the election period, election meetings, marches or motorcades shall not be held unless the Officer or Sub-Officer of Police in charge of the parish has been notified at least eight hours before.

Breach of this section, gives rise to a fine or imprisonment or both on summary conviction in the Parish Court.

Section 82. makes it a requirement for a Printer, Publisher or person posting billboards, placards or posters related to an election to affix their name and address on the face of the election material and if they fail, on summary conviction, to face a fine or imprisonment with or without hard labour for up to twelve months. It further notes that if the person involved is a candidate or the agent of a candidate, the person shall be guilty of an illegal practice.

Section 91. addresses Bribery (vote buying) and Treating and deems a person who directly or indirectly gives, lends, contracts, reimburses, promises, offers money, valuable consideration, office or employment or receives any of the above for voting or refraining from voting, shall be deemed guilty of bribery and at S94, such persons, on conviction may be liable to a fine or imprisonment for a term of between three and five years with or without hard labour.

Section 96. sets rout the Disqualifying Effect of Offences such as bribery, treating, undue influence, bars the convicted person from:
– Being registered as a voter in Local Government or National Election; and
– From being elected or retaining his seat in the House of Representatives or Municipality for a period of seven years.

These expressly address some of the matters that have been mired in uncertainty, bad habits, impunity, excuses and finger pointing and are a sample of our commitment.

This is a line in the sand where political parties, candidates, public officials, contributors-foreign and domestic, and party supporters have the duty and opportunity to improve our political system to the benefit of all; notwithstanding any questionable actions by persons in previous elections or election cycles.

Persons and entities who have received government contracts are specially provided for and protected in the reporting period. Where the contributor has received government contracts of the prescribed value (currently $500,000) two years before or two years after the contribution, they are required to file a prescribed declaration on Form 2A within fourteen days of the contribution or face a fine of up to one million dollars on summary conviction in the Parish Court.

This provides a check and balance process when these are compared to reports of candidates and political parties.

Many civic minded individuals and companies contribute to candidates and political parties and such support is important to our democracy. They are to be commended as they enhance transparency and accountability when they provide the filings and invoices stipulated in the law.

It is to be noted however that certain contributions are now specifically prohibited at S52 AT(1) as impermissible. Some examples include:
a) Any foreign or Commonwealth government, or any agent of such government, whether directly or indirectly;
b) A public body as defined in section 2 of the Public Bodies management and Accountability Act;
c) An entity whose existence is or activities are illegal under any law.

The making and acceptance of such impermissible contributions may give rise to a fine of up to three million dollars or up to twelve months imprisonment.

This campaign financing reform, aligns with and strengthens the mandate of the Political Ombudsman as articulated at Section 12.- (1) of the Political Ombudsman (Interim) Act
“Subject to this section, the Political Ombudsman shall investigate any action taken by a political party, its members or supporters, where he is of the opinion that such action action-
a) Constitutes or is likely to constitute a breach of any agreement, code or arrangement for the time being in force between or among political parties in Jamaica; or
b) Is likely to prejudice good relations between the supporters of various political parties”.

and the Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct (Code), which provides that
“the parties shall take such actions as are necessary to ensure full compliance with this Code by all officials of political parties” to wit

1. Non-Violence and Non-intimidation
f) Candidates or others acting on behalf of candidates:
i) Must not use funds derived from any source, public or private, to improperly influence electoral choices; (bribery) and
ii) Shall exercise all reasonable care in ensuring that all financial donations are derived from legitimate sources (not impermissible).

7. Political Tribalism
The parties eschew the practice of political tribalism rooted in coercion, intimidation or violence of any kind and the parties commit themselves to removing any structures and resisting the development of any behavioural, cultural, social or organizational practices, which reinforce political tribalism” (garrison politics).

Officials should:
Repudiate any act of corruption in the discharge of their functions.

Jamaica’s political, private and public sectors, civic leaders and the citizenry at large have repeatedly demonstrated through legislation, our commitment to the Rule of Law, Integrity and Good Governance. Citizens must report breaches to the trusted individuals, churches, JP’s, Electoral Commission, the political parties, Police, the Political Ombudsman, MOCA and other key agencies for action.

Public knowledge and support for these laws and effective enforcement will bring the written words to life for the benefit of all. This will improve trust in our leaders and institutions, better policies and development.

Not every problem will be addressed but as we go forward let each and all of us do our part to educate and to repudiate wrong doing.

We can improve Jamaica if we enforce our Laws and Standards for Politics.


In seeking to advance its efforts at political engagement of the public and politicians in dialogue, the Office of the Political Ombudsman, earlier this month, hosted a team from the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Head of the Secretariat’s Good Offices for Peace Governance and Peace Directorate and her colleagues, met with the Political Ombudsman and various groups, in a series of Focus Group sessions aimed at garnering information to inform the actions of the Political Ombudsman, aimed at:

  • Reducing political conflict, including ‘public utterances’ that may divide, demean, or incite
  • Enhancing political appreciation for the benefits of consensus within a competitive environment
  • Improving policy-making and good governance; and
  • Increasing participation of women in political parties with a view to reducing conflict.

Do you know about dialogue spaces such as?

  • National Partnership Council
  • Vale Royal Talks
  • Office of the Political Ombudsman
  • Dispute Resolution Foundation – Mediations
  • PMI Interventions
  • Restorative Justice Centres
  • CDC’s, DAC’s, and PDC’s

Please name any other dialogues in Jamaica.

Political Ombudsman, Hon. Mrs. Donna Parchment Brown, CD, JP, signs the condolence book at George William Gordon House, for former Prime Minister, Most Hon. Edward P.G. Seaga, ON, PC


Mr Seaga was a signatory to the Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct document of 2002 – the precursor to the current Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct of 2005. (cover of 2002 issue to be included)

Posts on Social Media are part of the public space

Political parties, officials and surrogates are not immune to findings of defamation, incitement, malice, provocation, volatile confrontation or increasing of tension by their posts. The language, product, actions and reactions on a social media platform must be responsible and just as accountable as in other media spaces, notwithstanding the fact that faces are hidden by a screen.

Jamaica’s political parties committed to the tenets of the Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct, signed in Jamaica’s George William Gordon House in September of 2005. Among these are the Avoidance of Confrontation and the control of negative Public Utterances.

By signing certifying their continuing adherence to these values, candidates and elected officials accept a duty to improve our politics for our people.

Political Tribalism in the Code of Conduct states –

“The Parties eschew the practice of political tribalism rooted in coercion, intimidation or violence of any kind and the parties commit themselves to removing any structures and resisting the development of any behavioural, cultural, social or organizational practises, which reinforce political tribalism” and demands that political leaders and officials conduct their business having regard for the rights of members of other parties, of persons who are of no party and of the public.

We applaud the recent meeting of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition at the start of 2019 in a very toxic conflictual time for Jamaica.  The other meetings proposed require from the party leaders and teams, wisdom, restraint, good listening and respect for those who are not at the table; but are those for whom the decisions are being made.

I call on the officials of political parties and supporters to remove the posts on social media that demean and distort and to put forward material that will help the leaders to arrive at the best course of action for Jamaica to increase the welfare of all Jamaicans.

Hon. Donna Parchment Brown, CD, JP, Notary Public
Political Ombudsman
85a Duke Street
Tel: (876) 922-8653; 922-0317
Cell: (876) 280-3612