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House silence for Robinson

By CLINT CHAN TACK Saturday, April 12 2014

UNITED National (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday paid tribute to this country’s former prime minister and president Arthur NR Robinson, who died on Wednesday at age 87 at the St Clair Private Hospital.

In a release posted on the United Nations website, titled “UN chief saddened by passing of Trinidad and Tobago’s former President”, Ki-moon’s spokes-person Stéphane Dujarric said: “The Secretary-General is saddened by the passing of a champion of international justice and one of the main architects of the International Criminal Court.”

President Robinson, the release added, is internationally recognised for his proposal during the 44th session of the UN General Assembly in 1989, to create a permanent court to hear cases involving the international drug trade, which eventually led to the inauguration of the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague, Netherlands.

“The Secretary-General extends his sincere condolences to the Robinson family and to the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Also yesterday, members of the House of Representatives observed a minute’s silence in respect of Robinson, who will be honoured with a five-day funeral which will see activities taking place both in Trinidad and his birthplace Tobago.

Agreeing with tributes paid during the sitting by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, House Speaker Wade Mark said Robinson’s legacy was that “of a colossus.”

“Throughout this period of our history, death has cut down many brave and invaluable men but none more so than the supremely courageous, supremely gifted and supremely patriotic Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson,” he declared.

Mark said while Robinson has died, “what will surely never die is that extraordinary love for our republic when he withstood the wicked assault on this Parliament’s integrity.” Recalling Robinson’s courage while he was a hostage during the July 1990 attempted coup, Mark said: “He did his duty with unsurpassed ardour and glory.”

Hailing Robinson as one of the most extraordinary and exemplary parliamentarians in this country’s history, Mark also observed “the bonds of affection” between him and the people of his beloved Tobago “surpassed all description.”

Saying all Tobago’s children should strive to follow Robinson’s example, Mark said it would be an injustice to Robinson “if there were no life after death.”

He also remarked that Robinson’s “intense disgust for injustice” could have been a driving force in directing him to lobby for the establishment of the International Criminal Court. Mark said all of the tributes paid to Robinson in the House would be sent to Robinson’s family.

After paying tribute to Robinson, Mark expressed condolences on behalf of all MPs to the family of Professor Norman Girvan who died in Cuba on Wednesday — the same day that Robinson died.

Hailing Girvan as one of the region’s most prominent academics and scholars, Mark said the people of TT join the rest of the region in mourning Girvan’s passing. Mark added that he had directed the Clerk of the House to send a letter of condolence to Jamaica’s Parliament and Girvan’s family.

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