In 2005, the current PM, then in Opposition announced that her party, the UNC was not in support of the CCJ and her reason was that there was no ethnic parity. I know it might escape the members of this government….but Indo-Caribbeans do not make up 40 or even 50% of the Caribbean’s population. The Indian population lucky if it makes up 20% of the Caribbean demographic…yet here in Trinidad every day we have to grapple with an Indo-population that seems to forget that there are many other ethnic groups that exist here. As recently as last year when questioned on making the switch to the CCJ the PM said there was no need to, her government was not in any rush to dump the Privy Council, and every one knew it was because they were afraid of losing investors, as happened to Guyana when they made a similar move.
Yet as of yesterday, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, now Prime Minister, is busily embracing the CCJ, but only for criminal matters and therein lies the problem for many others in the local legal fraternity. This partial move to the CCJ has been described as illegal, unlawful and unworkable by many in the legal fraternity. Former AG John Jeremie is quoted in the Express as saying, ‘in any “criminal case” a constitutional point might arised and be argued. “It is artificial to speak about abolishing the Privy Council for criminal appeals only,” because criminal matters could have a civil dimension, he said. ‘
Another former AG, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, has weighed in as well on the issue revealing that when he went to London in 1999 the Privy Council was not in support of a piecemeal split, but a total split: He recalled that when he went to London in 1999 to get the approval of the British Government because the British Government had to decide whether they would keep the civil jurisdiction if the country wanted to do away with the Privy Council as the final court for the criminal jurisdiction. “We were told that they were not prepared to do that”. He said the Privy Council was quite happy to do get rid of the jurisdiction altogether, they were not prepared to accept the phased proposal.”And that was known by the present Prime Minister, because she was a member of the Cabinet” he said.
If both instances citied above are true, that splitting the final courts of appeal will cause problems for Civil and Criminal matters; and further, that the PM knows that the Privy Council won’t support this….why is she proposing this? Because clearly it won’t be a successful proposal. It makes one wonder how exactly the PM and the AG got their silk in light of the various legal arguments that are flying about.
Meanwhile, the AG is asserting that these comments being made are mischievous and that there is “precedent in the Commonwealth” for a phased withdrawal.
So, naturally, I have to wonder, like De Bas, if Kamla’s absence from parliament during the revelation of the use of state funds for her travel assistant/nurse sister, and her miraculous appearance to announce a half way move to the CCJ is not really another ploy to distract from her government’s abuses. Because now several things are in train, there is heated debate nationally about whether the nation wants to leave the Privy Council or not, there are cries for a referendum….that a yellow donkey and God face you aint seeing under this government, they are not about serving the people….and public scrutiny of the TT$.9m spent on Ms Vidwattie Newton has now gone to the back burner. The Prime Minister’s claims too that she needs Opposition support on this issue…yet if it is a flawed plan and The Keith decides not to support it in Parliament the UNCOP Govt will be quick to claim that the PNM doesn’t want autonomy….when in truth and in fact the issue will be that the partial move may not be a workable plan. I think Kamla and her small goal team being a bunch of tricksy little orcsessssss on this issue…gollum, gollum!
4 people have been murdered over a 24-hour period…..not a word from the government about their crime plan of late….only 21st century policing from Gibbs….and anyone remember that he didn’t have the authority to rent that $.9m Crop Duster? Whatever happened to that issue? The AG stop probing it? Like he stop probing Jack Warner and the Fifa scandal?
In the business sector issues of race, coupled with unequal pay and corporate crime continue to hamper our economic growth. When you see things like this you wish that the government spent less time trying to muzzle the media and the Opposition, (and making stupid tasteless jokes a la Roodal Moonilal) and focus on actually running the country efficiently….but that would require having a plan that’s broader and more complex than draining the treasury, wouldn’t it?
De Vice Cyah Done!