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Sunday 15 December 2019
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MSJ accuses PM of politicising CJ issue

Political Leader of the Movement for Social Justice David Abdullah, PHOTO BY VASHTI SINGH
Political Leader of the Movement for Social Justice David Abdullah, PHOTO BY VASHTI SINGH

THE Prime Minister has made a fundamental error in judgement in politicising the Law Association’s (LATT) request to invoke Section 137 of the Constitution to trigger an impeachment process against Chief Justice Ivor Archie.

In doing so, political leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah said yesterday, Dr Rowley has made it an issue which will play out on political platforms of both the PNM and the UNC.

Abdulah said it also had the potential to degenerate into racial antagonism, which had already started.

Abdulah said Rowley’s announcement at the post-Cabinet news conference last Thursday that he received legal advice not to pursue the triggering of the section as recommended by LATT was “inappropriate.”

He said while the PM was not obligated to accept the recommendations of the LATT or anybody else, he had a responsibility to TT to treat with the matter with great seriousness and he did not.

“The PM made a fundamental error of judgement and he ought to have established or recommend to the President the establishment of a tribunal to settle this matter once and for all.

“He did not disclose who gave him legal advice. He did not disclose the content of that legal advice. He then went on to make a very politically charged statement saying he is not going to fall into the trap set by certain political people.”

Abdulah said that statement was equal to a message being sent to “PNM party sycophants to echo that the whole issue was a political trap.”

"That to my mind is a failure by Dr Rowley to show good judgement and proper leadership of TT. Nothing ought to be politicised when it comes to the integrity of the judiciary, particularly the head of the judiciary in the person of the holder of the position of CJ. But Dr Rowley has politicised the matter and the Opposition will equally politicise it.

“We would never know the truth if he was innocent or guilty and it is again going to be the subject of a political campaign and it will be a political issue, PNM accusing UNC of one thing and UNC accusing PNM of something else. And it could degenerate, as well, into unfortunate racial statements being made and and it is likely to degenerate into racial antagonism which will do this country absolutely no good.”

He said the judiciary was one of the most important institutions of State upon which citizens rely for redress and justice and without closure it could be brought into further disrepute.

Similarly, Abdulah said, the interpretation of the E-mailgate conclusion by the two major political parties was another reason why institutions were in a state of collapse because of an absence of proper leadership and clear judgement in the country.

He said the disparity in the DPP’s conclusion there was no sufficient evidence to charge, the UNC saying because there was none and the PNM’s offering there was but could not be uncovered, has left the country worse off as that too had the effect of advancing further political attacks on opposing sides and polarising the country.

“Once again we are left in a state of limbo.”

“I am sure people would recognise in hindsight that Dr Rowley should have taken this information directly to the DPP and have this matter investigated by the DPP supported by the police or have the police do the investigation under the direction of the DPP, quietly, without trigging the knowledge of persons who were allegedly involved in E-mailgate and therefore avoiding any e-mail information being deleted, assuming there was such information in the first place."

On the dismissal of charges against the owner of A&V Oil and his son-in-law who were accused of assaulting a media photographer, Abdulah said that was an example of the criminal justice system failing TT. He called on the DPP to restart the matter.

While not pronouncing guilt or innocence, Abdulah said the matter has far-reaching consequences for the freedom of the press and the perception that because the owner was an acknowledged friend of the PM and his son-in-law was a police officer, they could have received favourable treatment in the criminal justice system.

Abdulah suggested that media owners, the Media Association, unions representing media workers should raise their collective voices because of the perception that powerful people could attack journalists in the course of their duty without consequences.

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