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Opposition on ruling: We have been vindicated

Published: 
Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says her PP administration stands vindicated by yesterday’s Privy Council judgment which stated the repeal of the controversial Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act was lawful.

“This decision puts to rest, by a judgment of our highest court, the criticisms of the then Opposition of the actions of the PP government,” Persad-Bissessar added via statement

Commenting on the judgment, Persad-Bissessar added, “The reasons behind the passing of section 34 in its original incarnation remain valid. The legality and constitutionality of the action of the government I led in passing the repeal legislation has been tested and affirmed at each level of our judicial system.

“This judgment is a resounding victory for the People’s Partnership government which was the subject of much vilification and political attack by those who were bent on political exploitation of what was a constitutional crisis which was created with their active participation and support in Parliament.”

She said the ruling upholds local courts’ ruling in favour of the State when the PP was in office. “It is a clear vindication of the decision which was immediately taken to repeal section 34. The judgment highlights the swift action taken by the then government to convene the Parliament on an emergency basis to repeal a law that was unanimously passed with the support of all MPs with the noble intention of improving the system of criminal justice.

“The decision affirms the supremacy and power of Parliament. The effect of this decision is that the State’s right to prosecute those persons who may have benefited from section 34 in its original form has now been preserved.”

Persad-Bissessar noted specific reference was made in the judgment to the role of PP government members including then attorney general Anand Ramlogan and herself.

“As noted in paragraph 9 of the judgment, ‘On the same day, the Attorney General called the Prime Minister and told her that in his opinion section 34 should be repealed urgently’. The Privy Council also expressed the view that the Amendment Act was not targeted at the appellants and the actions of the Parliament did not contravene the separation of powers. 

“Swift remedial action was taken which effectively nullified any unintended consequences and benefits that would have operated to the detriment of the Criminal Justice System. We had convened a powerful legal team led by Lord Pannick QC and Allan Newman QC which resulted in legal victory at the High Court and the Court of Appeal. An equally powerful team was retained for the Privy Council Appeal and it is significant the Privy Council upheld the decision given by our Local Courts.”

Persad-Bissessar added, “In the final analysis, truth and justice have prevailed. Our political detractors who voted together with us to pass Section 34 and then laid the blame at the feet of the PP Administration will no doubt continue to make malicious allegations. This is, however, a resounding victory for the rule of law and justice has prevailed. Due process must now be followed so that justice can be done according to law.”

PMM caused hysteria —Mark

UNC senate leader Wade Mark, who brought up the Privy Council issue during senate debate yesterday, slammed the PNM for “misrepresenting things to the public” on Section 34.

Saying the Privy Council judgment had upheld the parliament’s handling of the matter, Mark said the PNM had in 2012 been “all over the place marching, attacking and causing hysteria, claiming grand conspiracy and mobilising all of T&T against the PP.

“But today the Privy Council upheld the law and no financiers are free. This PNM has a way of twisting, bending and manipulating facts to sway the population. But now they in charge they have to deal with reality.”

Mark later told reporters the PNM had used the issue to generate hysteria and give their allies the impression the PP was “involved in some sinister plot” and the Piarco accused would get “away scot free” 

“But they (PNM) all voted for it in Parliament where everyone also plugged the loophole after the fact. It demonstrated as the law lords said, they couldn’t go behind the minds of everyone to determine if there was any plot or conspiracy. That was only in the PNM’s minds and that of their agents. But thank God for the Privy Council who have now put this matter to rest once and for all,” he said.

They marched for my blood in vain—Volney

“My blood was spilt in vain.”

That was the view of former PP justice minister Herbert Volney who had piloted the Administration of Justice Act and proclamation of Section 34 in 2012

On the Privy Council’s judgment, Volney said, “They marched for my blood and they got it. But given what’s happened now it was all in vain. But these things happen and I don’t think T&T is better off for what happened over the repeal.

“The Privy Council judgment has exonerated the PP administration and me on wrongdoing since the then government acted responsibly to repeal the section.

“Unfortunately Rowley has surrounded himself with yes-men, the same old crew. And it’s the same with the Opposition.”

Volney said he’s doing “intellectual work” up the islands, is “happily retired” and also farming organically produced eggs.

“I feel I’ve been wasted as a jurist but that’s God’s will. I’m enjoying retirement and that’s the end of public life.”

Volney said the PP “has nothing to do with me and I have nothing to do with them, they never even sent me a Christmas card.” 

They marched for my blood in vain—Volney

“My blood was spilt in vain.”

That was the view of former PP justice minister Herbert Volney who had piloted the Administration of Justice Act and proclamation of Section 34 in 2012

On the Privy Council’s judgment, Volney said, “They marched for my blood and they got it. But given what’s happened now it was all in vain. But these things happen and I don’t think T&T is better off for what happened over the repeal.

“The Privy Council judgment has exonerated the PP administration and me on wrongdoing since the then government acted responsibly to repeal the section.

“Unfortunately Rowley has surrounded himself with yes-men, the same old crew. And it’s the same with the Opposition.”

Volney said he’s doing “intellectual work” up the islands, is “happily retired” and also farming organically produced eggs.

“I feel I’ve been wasted as a jurist but that’s God’s will. I’m enjoying retirement and that’s the end of public life.”

Volney said the PP “has nothing to do with me and I have nothing to do with them, they never even sent me a Christmas card.”