The state will appeal Justice Frank Seepersad’s sedition ruling, as Attorney General Faris Al Rawi has claimed the ruling could have a ripple effect with serious implications concerning other inherited laws from our colonial past.
“I’ve instructed the state’s attorneys, to take an urgent and immediate appeal and asked for an expedited hearing at the court of appeal for this particular matter,” said Al Rawi in a press conference yesterday.
“Because of the precedent that it would set on every saved law that applies in this country. Be it the law that allows capital punishment, to be punished by death by hanging or be it the law that protects secrecy provisions in the inland revenue act. In the income tax legislation. Section four, for instance, says there is strict confidentiality etc so this law has wide-reaching consequences. The judgement has wide-reaching consequences and it must be appealed as a matter of immediacy and as a matter of importance,” he said, explaining that the ruling could cause these other laws which were saved laws from pre-independence could be struck out on similar grounds.
Al Rawi said while he acknowledged the call for constitutional reform made by Justice Seepersad in the judgement, he said the law still had an effective usage in our post-monarchy democracy.
“The judge referred us to the fact that we have no longer have a monarchy and instead the country was effectively ruled by the people. I want to remind that this country has in its history riot-us consequences which are much more than pre-independence riots. In 1990, we saw the attempted coup in Trinidad and Tobago and we cannot forget our past. We also have to be very mindful of where the division between freedom of expression comes against maintaining law and order,” he said.
The AG read the excerpt of the late Sat Maharaj’s statement which prompted the sedition charge and raised the question as to where the line of freedom of expression should be drawn given the potential of violence.
“This case simply encapsulates where we are as a society believe where the line ought to be drawn. It is important to remember that freedom of expression has limits,” he said.
This particular case embodies the particular discussion in our society as to what is the dividing line between law and order.”
“This judgement today is one that has to be appealed, must be settled by the highest court which is the privy council and I just want to alert the country that the government strict interpretation, strict rule is that there must be an expedited hearing of an appeal. We will apply for that and finally that it is to be settled by no less a court than the privy council,” he said.