‘Breach of trust’
By Lara Pickford-Gordon Wednesday, September 19 2012
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Clear the way: Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley makes his way through a crowd of supporters at the entrance to President's House, St Ann's yesterday....
The People’s National Movement (PNM) has asked President George Maxwell Richards to get an explanation from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for the decision by the Cabinet to have Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011 proclaimed early, on August 31.
The PNM said this was “a breach of the trust of the Parliament,” and also called for the appointments of Minister of Justice Herbert Volney and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to be immediately revoked to avoid further “national distress and international opprobrium on this matter.”
The PNM is also asking the President, in his constitutionally required consultations with the Prime Minister, to raise as a matter of urgency the national community’s outrage.
These requests were contained in a petition of signatures which was delivered to Acting President Timothy Hamel-Smith at President’s House, St Ann’s, at about 3 pm yesterday after a march from Woodford Square, Port-of-Spain.
President Richards left the country yesterday morning for New Zealand where he will deliver the Plenary Address at the Chemeca 2012 conference of the Australian and New Zealand Community of Chemical Engineers and Industrial Chemists which takes place from September 23 to 26. Richards was accompanied by his wife Dr Jean Ramjohn-Richards and will proceed on vacation after the conference.
There was a large turnout for the PNM’s march with scores of persons wearing red jerseys and carrying national flags. Chief Secretary of the PNM-controlled Tobago House of Assembly Orville London travelled to Trinidad to be part of the march. Not all were supporters of PNM and many persons were present to register their dissatisfaction with Government including Movement for Social Justice leader David Abdulah, political analyst Dr Kirk Meighoo and Robert Mayers of the Congress of the People (COP).
Addressing the gathering at the Queen’s Park Savannah (QPS), just after 4 pm, after spending close to an hour meeting with Hamel-Smith, Opposition and PNM Leader Dr Keith Rowley said 25,000 signatures were collected within the 48 hours that the march was announced.
He announced that the President was asked to trace the documents related to Section 34 “backwards to its origin” to make sure rules and regulations were followed for every stage of proceedings right to the drafting of the Cabinet note. Rowley asked for the President to report to the country on his findings.
Rowley suggested that TT’s international image had been “stained” by the Section 34 controversy.
He said, “Understanding this is the communication age, in a matter of seconds, around the world from Australia to Timbuktu from New Zealand to Scotland, the people know that in TT there exists a Government that betrayed the Parliament, that used the Cabinet to allow alleged criminals innocent or guilty to not have their day in court.”
Rowley wrote to the United States, Canadian, United Kingdom, French and Dutch governments as well as the Organisation of American States and Association of Caribbean States and Caricom advising that “even though the Government has done that to the people, the people will have none of this.”
He criticised the silence from members of Cabinet in not giving explanations of the action taken. Rowley observed that Persad-Bissessar was in the Parliament for the amendment to repeal Section 34, last Wednesday, but also “did not have a word to say. All she did was try and get Anil Roberts to speak.”
COP leader and head of the Legislative Review Committee (LRC) Prakash Ramadhar’s silence for two weeks was also criticised.
Rowley was not impressed by Ramadhar’s apology at a press conference yesterday and cited the statement that the LRC was not consulted.