Al-Rawi stays put
By JANELLE DE SOUZA Wednesday, April 23 2014
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'NAH LEAVING': A defiant Opposition Senator Faris Al-Rawi after he refused to step down from a Joint Select Committee of Parliament meeting at which t...
OPPOSITION Senator Faris Al-Rawi yesterday refused to recuse himself (step down) from a Joint Select Committee (JSC) of Parliament, before which, Director of the Police Complaints Authority Gillian Lucky was called to answer questions of the committee.
Committee member, Oropouche West MP Stacy Roopnarine yesterday made it a point to indicate that Al-Rawi was asked to recuse himself from the JSC but refused to do so. “I wish to state for the record that myself and other members of this Committee requested Senator Al-Rawi recuse himself and he has refused. I wish to state that for the record because this is a public hearing and we have constituents to answer to,” Roopnarine said.
Al-Rawi is in the midst of a firestorm after he revealed while speaking in the Senate that he had a copy of a PCA report on a probe into the existence of a new Flying Squad. As the report was only authorised to be in the possession of the PCA, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and an unnamed Senior Counsel attorney retained by the PCA, there have been questions as to whether or not the leak occurred in the office of the PCA, led by Lucky.
In response to Roopnarine’s statement, Al-Rawi chastised the MP saying he did not think it proper to disclose issues that were discussed in-camera. He defended his refusal stating, “Apart from there being a lack of legal limitation in our Standing Orders for that purpose, I didn’t think there was a conflict of interest as opposed to any anecdotal issue that other members of the committee may have.”
However that was not the only objection by Al-Rawi during the two-hour meeting. At one point, he objected to Tourism Minister Gerald Hadeed’s referral to his (Al-Rawi’s) statements from the unedited Hansard of the Senate contribution and asked Hadeed and Lucky to refer to the revised Hansard statements.
Hadeed said Lucky had previously stated that, based on the Hansard, Al-Rawi misrepresented aspects of the report. Lucky denied this claim, saying that in reading the Hansard report, it seemed that Al-Rawi was not referencing the PCA report in his statement.
However Al-Rawi interrupted Lucky’s response stating, “That is the unrevised Hansard report and I have spotted inaccuracies based upon the replay of the video verses of that report, which is the unrevised report, says. And what I am saying is, get the correct version and let the Government anxiety for a public hanging rest for a little while!”
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Elton Prescott, also intervened stating that they should not be inquiring into what had been transpiring in the media, and that it was not a productive exercise.
Later in the discussions, in response to a question from vice-chairman of the committee, Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir, Lucky noted that the PCA could not investigate “high levels of police corruption” as it did not have the authorities, privileges, immunities and/or access to facilities as did the Professional Standards Bureau of the TT Police Service (TTPS). In these cases, such as police killings, the PCA could only monitor and audit TTPS investigations, as well as undertake inquiries and gather evidence.