Review by Kevin Baldeosingh
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Al-Rawi wants it in writing
Opposition Senator Faris Al-Rawi is calling on Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to apologise in writing and provide charitable donations on behalf of Kristel Marie Ramnath. Al-Rawi’s call came during yesterday’s Senate debate on the Libel and Defamation (Amendment) Bill, which was presented by Ramlogan and seeks to abolish the criminal offence of malicious defamatory libel.
He was commenting on the issue which occurred in the House of Representatives last Friday, when Ramlogan had reportedly said the PNM’s St Joseph MP, Terrence Deyalsingh, was agitated because a former girlfriend, Kristel, was deprived of his services on Valentine’s night. Ramlogan said yesterday, however, that it was just picong and given in the cut-and-thrust of political talk. But Al-Rawi, who spoke after Ramlogan yesterday, said the matter was not just one of picong and political cut-and-thrust.
He said it was a serious matter and the AG could not be excused for his attack by saying Deyalsingh was thinned-skin or that it was normal cut-and-thrust of politics. “What we have objections to is the derogation and sullying of a young lady’s name,” Al-Rawi said. He told legislators if Ramlogan was serious about an apology he should submit a written apology in the House of Representatives. “It is incumbent on the AG to man up and offer the kind of proper apology that should be offered,” Al-Rawi insisted.
He said the AG should also consider “making some form of charitable donation to cater for the derogation and destruction of reputation to the young lady." And dealing with the bill itself, Al-Rawi said the Data Protection Act, which has not been proclaimed despite being passed in 2011, was worse than the Libel and Defamation Amendment Bill.
The Opposition senator said there were provisions in the unproclaimed bill for media workers to face criminal action. He said part four of the act dealt with the control of personal information in private entities. He said media houses would face worse penalties if the Data Protection Act was proclaimed and operationalised.