A persistent dilemma exists in Trinidad and Tobago and indeed in other Caribbean and developing societies, as we strive to strike a balance between prisoners’ rights and society’s condemnation of...
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AG must stand aside
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley is demanding the removal of Attorney General Anand Ramlogan from office while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar initiates a full investigation into allegations of wrong-doing by lawyers involved in prison litigation in his ministry. Rowley made the call during a People’s National Movement (PNM) leadership campaign meeting at Signature Hall, Longdenville, Chaguanas, on Monday night.
He said if the PM did not accede to the request he would lead citizens on the streets in protest. He told supporters: “We want a thorough independent investigation of these allegations of criminal conduct originating in the office of the AG. The AG Anand Ramlogan must be removed from the office in the process while the investigation proceeds.
“We are making this as a demand in protection of our rights under the Constitution. If the PM does not accede to these two requests, I am putting you on standby that I would lead the people of T&T onto the streets of T&T because this Government does not own us. They work for us.” Rowley was referring to the now ongoing saga between Ramlogan and former solicitor general (SG) Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell.
Donaldson-Honeywell, in a letter to the PM last August, had accused attorneys in the Office of the AG of collusion in prison litigation matters and called for a probe. She claimed there were concerns about a breach of professional ethics for indirect or direct financial gain, adding she was concerned the attorneys were engaged in an unethical business venture.
After the AG produced a second letter to the media over the weekend, which seemed to suggest Donaldson-Honeywell had withdrawn her request after being satisfied the matter had been dealt with following a probe by the AG, Donaldson-Honeywell countered that she never did that and expected the probe to continue.
Duty to nation
During his meeting, Rowley, who is being challenged for the leadership position in the May 18 internal election by Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, said the matter was a very serious one and the PM had a duty to the nation to have it investigated and determined. “People of T&T, I want you to understand that the SG is a subordinate of the AG,” Rowley said.
“In simple language, he is her boss. But the matter was so serious that this officer, a public servant, seeing what is before her by way of complaints from the prisons, wrote a letter to the PM,” he added.
He said Donaldson-Honeywell put everything on the line by bypassing the AG to write to the PM, “that this matter exists where the judiciary, the prisons and the executive, that triumvirate, is operating in a way where there could be criminal conduct taking place, involving persons who have been convicted of crimes, who are already in jail and who are siphoning out public money through an unethical business practice.
“In other words, there are people in the system, in the government, in the AG’s office colluding with lawyers to run a business using the jail and the AG’s office. “That’s why tonight I am calling on the PM of T&T to immediately institute the appropriate enquiry into this matter and that the AG not be anywhere near the borders of it,” he said.
...and gives Ramlogan a 24-hour ultimatum
Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley on Monday gave a 24-hour ultimatum to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to make public the report he did into allegations of collusion between the Prison Services and the Judiciary. He also issued a fresh call to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to remove Ramlogan while an independent investigation is done into the allegations.
Rowley made the demands during a public meeting in Londenville, Chaguanas, on Monday, in support of his campaign for the national executive election on May 18. Former solicitor general Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell resigned last year, months after she wrote a letter to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar about alleged collusion in prison litigation matters. Ramlogan said he investigated her complaint and found the allegations to have no basis.
But Rowley said Ramlogan still had questions to answer. “Tonight, I ask the Attorney General where, when, how and by whom did this full investigation take place with respect to the alleged criminal conduct between your office, the prisons and the Judiciary on this matter?” hew asked. He then called on Ramlogan to “make the report of that full investigation public by tomorrow (yesterday) evening.”
He told the PNM supporters: “This is the place where we draw a line on the ground. We draw a line on the ground in T&T, in Caroni (Chaguanas) tonight.” And in the wake of the “onslaught” by Ramlogan on Police Complaints Authority director Gillian Lucky over an alleged leak of its report on the New Flying Squad, Rowley called on all public officials to speak out on government corruption. He said they could do that knowing they had the support of the Opposition.
With a general election due next year, Rowley said those who spoke out and were victimised by the PP Government would be safe if the PNM were to assume power then. “We give the assurance to every public official or any person in the private sector who knows of government wrong-doing, that if you speak up in defence of T&T, the (next) PNM government will ensure we reverse every act of discrimination or victimisation against you. This joke has gone too far,” he added.
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