Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 29th 2017 Contents A6 news
guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 29, 2017
Kamla: We're not supporting trial by judge alone
The Opposition yesterday turned
its back on a bill which seeks to allow
accused people the option to have a
trial by judge alone.
The legislation was presented by Attor-
ney General and Minister of Legal Affairs,
The measure seeks to speed up the de-
livery of justice by having the matter heard
before a judge alone. It also seeks to reduce
to cost of justice.
But in contribution to yesterday's House
of Representatives debate , the Leader of
the Opposition,Kamla Persad-Bissessar
said her 18 members would not lend sup-
port to the legislation. The Opposition
voted in favour of it in the Senate. Per-
sad-Bissessar began by telling legislators
she was prepared to give support to the
measure but on further consideration
she realised it contained "fundamentally
Persad-Bissessar said the suite of leg-
islation brought by the Government to
deal with the criminal justice system had
become very sour.
She said the measure was brought at a
most inappropriate time as the population
had little confidence in the Judiciary.
The Siparia MP said the Government
was trying to amend a section of the law
that was struck down by the court. That
claim was later dismissed by a Government
source, who said the High Court ruling was
overturned by the Court of Appeal.
Also contributing to yesterday's debate
was St Augustine MP and former Congress
of the People (COP) leader, Prakash Ram-
adhar , who said he "cannot support the
death of fair trials in this country," adding
the bill was "nothing short of the sharp
edge of a spear that is long and is painful."
Ramadhar said it was clear that the bill
was part of the Government's intention to
remove trial by jury in all matters.
Ramadhar said the legislation was not
fit or proper, adding that there seems to be
"an arrogance besetting us all that suggests
the common man is a lesser human being
in the society. That the only interaction
that the common man in T&T will have in
the judicial process is either as a victim ,
a witness or an accused. He will have no
involvement in the judicial process other
According to Ramadhar , the judicial
system in T&T was "a messy one."
He added that there was no pristine belief
that every case is rightly decided or that
every case is wrongly decided. He insisted
the existing jury system was the best sys-
tem that we now have.
Ramadhar said it was being interfered
with for no good reason.
Dealing with judges, Ramadhar told leg-
islators: "Let us not for a moment believe
that because they are called Lordships they
are perfect or that they are unbiased."
He said: "Every human being has pre-
conditioned approach to matters- every
single one of us- and whatever comes to
us it is through that filter of your life's ex-
periences that you interpret it."
Opposition to file no-confidence against Speaker...
Bridgid reads riot act
to misbehaving MPs
More stormy Parliament
sessions may be ahead.
While the Opposition
intends filing a motion of
no-confidence against House
Speaker Bridgid Annisette-
George by today, the Speak-
er yesterday sternly warned
MPs against misbehaviour in
her warnings via a statement
at the start of yesterday's Par-
liament sitting. This followed
the stormy end to last Friday's
sitting where Government and
Opposition MPs traded abrasive
That stormy ending occurred
after Opposition MP Barry Pa-
darath accused Prime Minister
Keith Rowley of not walking
with a "tin of Crix or sardine
"when Rowley visited Southern
storm-hit areas last week. PNM
MP Camille Robinson-Regis has
denied she'd said Padarath's
remark was "racist". During the
session, however, Padarath had
loudly demanded a ruling from
the Speaker on the situation.
The Opposition had walked out
of Parliament after debate on
tropical storm Brett's damage
Yesterday, Opposition leader
Kamla Persad- Bissessar told the
T&T Guardian, the Opposition
was finalising moves to bring a
motion of no-confidence against
the Speaker and hoped to file it
Persad- Bissessar added,
"It's not intended to abuse the
presiding officer, but to place this
in the context and on the role
and function of the presiding of-
ficer in our democracy. We'd been
contemplating and researching
this a long while since there's
some misunderstanding of the
role and function and one can
end up misdirecting oneself -
but last Friday was the last straw."
"Parliament is the last bastion
of democracy. It's where we pro-
tect the rights of the minority and
the right to freedom of expres-
sion. It's the one place we have
a say. We have to preserve that
Annisette-George, in her
warnings yesterday, called for
MPs not to repeat last Friday's
Annisette-George said, " In
instances when I'm not allowed
to be heard in silence - conse-
quential disorder - such as oc-
curred during the last sitting is
inevitable. I wish to stress such
disorder will not be tolerated by
She cautioned that flaring ten-
sions must not degenerate into
shouting, disruptive behaviour
or disrespect to her.
"Remarks and outbursts by any
MP while I'm on my legs will not
be and are not considered part of
the official proceedings of this
House and as such will not be re-
corded in the Hansard (record)."
"Any Member who's of the
opinion that shouting at the
Chair while the Speaker is stand-
ing will result in his/her offensive
and disrespectful words being in-
cluded in the Hansard is seriously
misguided... this principle also
extends to MPs who shout across
the floor at each other,"
"If any Member refuses to fol-
low a direction from this Chair,
is repeatedly called to order,
disregards warnings or other-
wise acts in defiance of a ruling
or direction, I will not hesitate
to exercise the prerogative of the
Chair in relation to such offend-
ing Member until the offending
Member accepts the authority of
House Speaker Bridgid Annisette George on her feet during the
sitting of Parliament yesterday. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
She also stressed:
• MPs are expected to observe
certain standards of conduct
according to Standing Orders.
• It’s her role/duty to maintain
standards by ensuring order and
decorum and she requires no as-
• Every MP should resume their
seat as soon as the Speaker rises
to speak/calls the House to order
and must listen in silence
• When she intervenes directly
to call a Member to order, to re-
spond to a point of order raised
by a Member or to address this
House in general, “NO Member is
to speak. “
• She’s allowed to deliver direc-
tions/rulings and bring the House
to order in silence; without com-
ment, intervention or protest.
• If loud/disruptive behaviour oc-
cur and persist, a Speaker is de-
nied the opportunity to rule on any
point of order which a Member
seeks to raise.
•Members who are called to order
but persist in disorderly behaviour,
including interjecting in a disor-
derly manner/disregarding the
authority of the Speaker will be
called upon to apologise.
Mother of abused boy
wants suitable housing
The mother who is now lobbying the Chil-
dren's Authority (CA) for the return of her
disabled child is calling on Housing and Ur-
ban Development Minister Randall Mitchell
to come to her aid so she can once again be
reunited with her son.
According to CA officials, the lack of suitable
accommodations is the major factor preventing
the return of the 14-year-old boy.
Hence, a plea for her Housing Development
Corporation (HDC) application to be fast-tracked
through the system to enable her to secure suitable
State accommodations whereby she would be found
to be "ready" to receive her son.
The mother of three complained that numerous
attempts to have her son returned to her custo-
dy within the last year had proven futile as three
previous home visits from various CA officers all
found her to be "lacking suitable accommodations
to care for the boy."
Assigned to the St Michael's Home for Boys four
years ago as she was unable to properly care for
him, the unemployed woman said her son who has
been diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome was a
victim of untold sexual and physical abuse during
his time away from her.
This claim was verified by health officials who
interacted with the boy and confirmed it was having
a deleterious effect on his well-being.
Removed from St Michael's in October 2016 and
referred to the St Ann's Mental Hospital---the moth-
er claims her son remains alone, scared and heavily
medicated. The boy's mother has also accused the
CA of abandoning him to the medical institution.
Prader-Willi syndrome is a complex genetic con-
dition that affects many parts of the body.
Characterised by weak muscle tone, feeding dif-
ficulties, poor growth, and delayed development
often beginning in childhood, affected individuals
develop an insatiable appetite which leads to chronic
overeating and obesity.
Persons with Prader-Willi syndrome typically
have mild to moderate intellectual impairment and
learning disabilities, while behavioral problems are
common including temper outbursts, stubbornness,
compulsive behavior such as picking at the skin
and sleep abnormalities may also occur.
Revealing that her son had attended school while
he lived with her, the tearful woman said, "Even
though I don't have a lot of material things or money,
I tried my best to give him as normal a life as I could
and he seemed happy."
"Now he is just locked up in St. Ann's although
he is not mad and he is withdrawn and unhappy,"
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