Rowley: AG fails to protect TT
By Lara Pickford-Gordon Saturday, October 27 2012
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Anand Ramlogan as Attorney General (AG) has failed in his duty to protect the State from the outcomes of the controversial Section 34 in which certain persons would have gotten an amnesty after it was proclaimed.
“That is why in the Constitution that office of Attorney General is clear and put there and not left to chance. It is to prevent this kind of thing from happening by accident or happenstance,” Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said in the House of Representatives yesterday.
“He has also misled the Parliament, people of TT and cannot be trusted,” Rowley said while speaking on the no confidence motion brought against Ramlogan which calls for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to relive him of his portfolio. He said Ramlogan’s responsibilities as AG were not properly discharged and for the public interest to be protected the PM had to replace the AG.
Supporters of the People’s National Movement, People’s Partnership and other members of the public were at the Public Gallery of the Parliament Chamber to witness the debate of the motion. Other supporters gathered outside Tower D, Port-of-Spain to watch the session live on a big screen erected on the esplanade.
Rowley said Clause 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Bill 2011 went to the Upper House where Justice Minister Herbert Volney identified “a new position” in which persons who committed an offence ten years prior, but were not tried could be freed.
Rowley questioned where the AG was when Volney presented the change. He cited Ramlogan’s comments when he spoke on the Bill in the Senate and said that in Section 10, if ten years passed since an offence was committed or ten years passed since someone was charged then they would be discharged. Rowley said, “I want to ask the AG wherever in this Parliament was there ever a section ten that had those two conditions where it was either or. It was never an either or, those two conditions were never in any clause. It left this House as ten years since you were charged and they changed it in the Upper House to ten years since you committed the offence.”
Rowley recapped the events leading up to the proclamation and put forward several questions which must be answered by Ramlogan.
Why didn’t he appeal Justice Boodoosingh’s decision (that financiers Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson should not be extradited to the US) and apply to put fresh evidence before the court? Rowley said Ramlogan could have argued that Section 34 would have made a local trial impossible and accordingly the basis on which Justice Boodoosingh decided (November 7, 2011) it was unjust and oppressive to extradite these persons no longer existed.
On December 19, Ramlogan announced he would not appeal saying that justice would be served by forgoing the appeal and allowing the criminal prosecution currently before the local courts to proceed. Rowley said by not appealing “certain persons” had their first victory.
With the AG “having a foot” in the extradition proceedings, the legislative process in the Parliament and being in the Cabinet, Rowley said, “who knew what was coming down the pipeline in Clause 34 and what came down in Justice Boodosingh’s judgment? It is the AG.”
He asked why Ramlogan did not take steps to amend the Sixth schedule and Section 34 so these persons could not rely on it. Rowley said only a ministerial order was needed.
“He made a promise to his colleagues in the Upper House to do that and if he had done that this matter would not be in the public domain.”