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An outrageous act of brutality
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has promised to leave no stone unturned in the investigation into murder of Dana Seetahal, SC. The prime minister made the statement after she convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council to discuss Seetahal’s killing yesterday. Persad-Bissessar is the head of the council.
In a statement issued yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said she also spoke with Chief Justice Ivor Archie and they had agreed to meet at the earliest possible time to discuss necessary reforms in the criminal justice system including security issues. Expressing sadness and shock over Seetahal’s death, Persad-Bissessar said, “It is a reprehensible act which has robbed us all of one of our nation’s best and brightest daughters.
“Even those who never met Dana Seetahal would recognise her through the life she lived and the proud legacy now left. “There is an abyss of loss and sadness for this brutal removal of a sister, friend, legal luminary and fearless, independent thinker on national issues.” Describing Seetahal’s killing as an “outrageous act of brutality”, Persad-Bissessar said it must be ensured that the killers be brought to justice.
“This act must not be allowed to be concluded by mere expressions of regret and sympathy. I have enjoined the Minister of National Security to ensure that every resource of the law enforcement machinery of the State is utilised in relentless pursuit of apprehending those involved in this most dastardly and heinous act.
“I am resolutely committed to meeting the viciousness with which Dana Seetahal’s brilliant life was cut down on the terms she would have wanted and fought so courageously and fearlessly for every day,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Death must not be in vain
The PM said Seetahal would have uncompromisingly sought justice and made her voice known. Seetahal’s death, Persad-Bissessar urged, must not be in vain. “Dana Seetahal would have made her tragedy an impetus and symbol for sweeping changes. Dana Seetahal would have fought with her last breath to ensure justice was served. By our response, let us preserve that legacy,” Persad-Bissessar said.
She said Seetahal’s murder brought an end to the work of a legal and academic giant whose contributions to the nation were far from complete. “The legal profession, and indeed our country and region have lost a truly remarkable daughter of T&T,” the PM said. “As a lawyer, her success and the high regard she earned from her colleagues were testaments to her determination to boldly uphold and defend the rule of law.”
She said in her role as a former Independent Senator, Seetahal demonstrated the highest principles and values of independent thinking and was grounded in her love and passion for the future of the country. “She earned a sterling reputation as a leading opinion-maker on national issues of law, constitution and criminal justice.
“For the role she played in Parliamentary, legal and indeed national leadership, Dana will always be remembered fondly. We have lost someone who never allowed herself to be defined by the change she advocated, and whose courage and boldness will always stand as an inspiration for today’s and tomorrow’s legal professionals,” Persad-Bissessar added.
Senior Counsel Dana S Seetahal was an Independent Senator for eight years. She was an attorney in private practice and a lecturer at the Hugh Wooding Law School in St Augustine, where she held the position of course director in criminal practice and procedure. Born on July 8, Seetahal held a bachelor of laws from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, a masters degree in criminology from Florida State University and was a Fulbright Scholar.
She was first appointed an Independent Senator in April 2002 and was again appointed on October 2002 and December 2007. Her first contribution in the senate was on the Appropriation Bill, 2003, which she introduced on October 28, 2002. In January 2006 she was made Senior Counsel. In 2008 she opened her own private chambers, El Dorado Chambers on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain. Seetahal also served as a state prosecutor, assistant solicitor general and a magistrate.
She was a weekly columnist for the Saturday Express and previously for the T&T Guardian. Seetahal presented numerous papers on criminal justice and related areas. Her book The Commonwealth Caribbean on Criminal Procedure, not only entailed theoretical knowledge, but also her practical knowledge earned over 20 years of experience in the field.
Seetahal also acted as a criminal justice consultant to governments across the region and various international bodies.