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Rationale behind Section 34 continues to raise questions
The AG: “The dark insinuation—that these particular defendants had ‘insider information.’”
It is completely legitimate for the public to suspect collusion in the matter of Section 34. The human brain identifies patterns and sequences, and seeks to establish causal relations by forming hypotheses. A suspicion is an hypothesis, the first step in trying to find a valid explanation for Section 34. The hypothesis of “insider information” is one worth investigating. It may be true or false.
How does the AG know that the two defendants (X and Y) did not have insider information? Did they give him that assurance? If so, what evidence supports that assurance? The AG’s statement does not logically preclude a search for alternative explanations.
The public suspicion (hypothesis) that there was insider information is plausible in view of the following, and merits an inquiry. Justice Boodoosingh refused to extradite X and Y, both ex-UNC financiers. The AG refused to appeal his ruling, but said that X and Y would have a speedy trial. To date that trial has not taken place.
The Section 34 proclamation was a furtive violation of the promise to Parliament that there would be a delay until all the “mechanisms” were in place. It was preceded by a Cabinet meeting where the Minister of Justice gave that infamous lie which led to his peremptory expulsion from the Cabinet. Is he the only culprit?
It was a Cabinet decision to proclaim Section 34, a significantly abridged version of the section. Just as Cabinet solidarity is an established convention of the Westminster parliamentary system, so also is its corollary, the collective responsibility of Cabinet.
The Cabinet makes its decisions as a whole, and is collectively responsible to Parliament. Each member shares in the collective responsibility of the Cabinet, and is assumed to have participated in the discussion and given approval. Is it improper for the public to question to what extent the Cabinet knew that Section 34 was a deliberately truncated version with predictably positive consequences for X and Y? Was Volney a fall guy, as he claims?
The AG is the chief legal adviser of the Government, and oversees the DPP’s prosecution of important State cases. This does not require the AG to have specialised in criminal law, simply an understanding of the issues, communication between the AG and the DPP, and a general superintendence of the DPP’s work.
The AG’s claim of specialisation in civil law cannot minimise or excuse any possible involvement in the Section 34 scandal. Is he suggesting that his ignorance of criminal law enabled Volney, a former judge and the Minister of Justice, to pull a fast one on him?
Section 34 has created considerable social unrest and distrust. The perception, right or wrong, is that Cabinet collusion was involved, and this from a government promising integrity and transparency. Is the public irrational to question the degree to which the Cabinet was involved? Is such questioning a “dark insinuation”?
A major responsibility of the AG is to protect the public interest. Is the public unreasonable to view the process leading to the proclamation of Section 34, a process in which the AG was involved, a gross dereliction of that duty? Do the honourable thing and resign, Mr AG! Clinging tenaciously to your office will only further undermine public trust and tarnish your image.
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