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Right to privacy?

Friday, November 3, 2017

The allegations made by a television personality about the private life and conduct of a senior member of the legal fraternity bring into focus the question of the right to privacy.

Back in 2016 while debating the amendments to the Strategic Services Act, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi stated, “There is no right to privacy as some people alleged exists in this jurisdiction.” Al-Rawi went on to state that the constitution does “recognise the right to private and family life” and that “our courts are replete with judgments that say that the right to privacy is not, per se a right.”

So where does the right to privacy end if you are a public figure? And is there a right to privacy in a place like a popular restaurant? According to legal minds, restaurants can be considered public places and while taking video or photographs of a high profile person in a public space can be intrusive or rude, it’s not exactly against the law. There might, however, be common law principles on privacy which are relevant.

Harassment is another issue, but there are provisions which cover media workers to some degree. Defamation, however, is another matter altogether. While these issues are being fully ventilated this week, there are a few things every high profile person knows: public life requires simple things, chief among them, thick skin, clean hands and enough truth to clear your name if or when needed.

Miss Universe misstep

The case of Yvonne Clarke’s qualification, disqualification and requalification as T&T’s delegate to the Miss Universe pageant is embarrassing and unfortunate. Despite the assurance yesterday by the local franchise holder “they have settled all issues” too many questions remain.

It’s not simply a matter of “all’s well that ends well” as the incident has undermined the credibility of some key players. Clarke herself was placed in a distressing position. The franchise holder’s ability to provide adequate support was publicly and widely debated, and the fact that it took Fay-Ann Lyons Alvarez—by all counts an outsider to the process—to step in, says it all.

Call it what you may but “beauty pageants” or “scholarship programmes” are driven not just by glamour, beauty and international prestige, but by sponsorships and fundamentally, cash. While they have a proven history of exposing both the candidate and the country to the international spotlight, financial support is at the heart of the competition.

If this country has any intention of continuing in the pageant circuit, those managing the event must be held accountable. Private holder or not, the delegate represents us. In this case, Yvonne Clarke deserved better.

Fake oil report

The findings of the forensic investigators Kroll Consulting into the fake oil scandal at state-owned Petrotrin is expected to be submitted today. The Canadian firm’s determination of if, how or why there was a US$12 million overpayment to a local contractor for oil that was never delivered, is eagerly anticipated.

The perception of corruption in this country is already an embarrassing reality. The finding of this report should be made public, so that tax payers know what really happened, and why.


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