UNC activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj wants Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher to say how much money was spent by the police service to investigate allegations against two UNC politicians from 2016 to the present and two Government ministers.
He also wants to know how much money was spent on hiring foreign consultants, law enforcement officials, legal advisers and technical experts on these investigations.
Maharaj also wants to know the steps taken in the investigations relating to the Government ministers; the estimated timeframe for the completion of these probes and how much money has been spent on investigating these allegations of conduct against the ministers.
A freedom of information request to the commissioner on Friday, by attorney Jochelle Lootawan of Freedom Law Chambers.
Lootawan said the requested information was disclosable in the public interest.
“These investigations have been ongoing for over eight years without any resolution. The public is entitled to know how much money was spent in conducting its investigations in light of the horribly low detection rate for murder and other serious crimes.”
The attorney said there is a suspicion that the police service was politically compromised and was being used to execute political vendettas.
“The expenditure might confirm or debunk the perception of political bias. Moreover, these are public funds and the public has a right to know how their money is being spent and whether they got value for money,” she said.
Lootowan maintained that it was in the public’s interest that those who hold high public office are charged and prosecuted if there is supporting evidence or exoneration if there is no lawful justification.
She said simply having a police investigation hanging over their heads with a cloud of suspicion would obviously negatively impact their political standing and prospects.
“Failure to disclose will reinforce the public perception that there is a lack of transparency
and accountability at the TT police service, and that there are fertile grounds for arbitrary and discriminatory conduct.
“There is no reasonable justification for such bureaucratic stonewalling, secrecy and mystery in matters of this kind. The benefit to be derived from disclosure will, by far, outweigh any damage that could be
caused. Indeed, the disclosure will inspire public confidence in the integrity of the management
and operations of the public authority whereas, non-disclosure has the potential to erode
public confidence as secrecy is anathema to fairness, transparency and accountability,” the attorney said,
Lootawan noted that “an unreasonable unwillingness” to disclose such information was normally associated with “inefficiency, mismanagement, and corruption.”
“There is no conceivable prejudice or harm that could result from the disclosure of the requested
information. Disclosure would therefore be consistent with the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance which is subsumed in the concept of the rule of law upon which our constitutional democracy is based.”
The commissioner was given 30 days to respond. She was also warned that if she does not, a judicial review claim will be filed to seek an order from the court to compel her to provide the information.