Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 19th 2017 Contents news A5
Wednesday, July 19, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Tobago opens 10 shelters ahead of Don
Shelters were set to be opened
last night and emergency meas-
ures put in place as Tobago braced
for the effects of Tropical Storm
People on the north and east sides
of the island who felt their homes
would not withstand the impact of
Don, were advised to seek shelter
at one of the 10 emergency shelters
Acting Supervisor for the Met
Office in Tobago, Gary Benjamin,
made it clear that Tobago was not
under tropical storm watch, but
said the island would have felt the
effects of "convective activity" from
10 o'clock last night. Benjamin said
heavy rainfall was expected, espe-
cially in northern Tobago.
"We are in range where we can get
gusts with winds," he said.
Director of the Tobago Emergency
Management Agency (TEMA) Allan
Stewart told the media the Disas-
ter Management Committee met
yesterday morning to "discuss and
formulate plans in the event we are
impacted negatively." Based on the
information from the Met Office, he
said, "We will not be grossly impact-
ed by Tropical Storm Don and we feel
very comfortable we are prepared to
respond to any eventuality."
The focus of attention, he said, will
be on the northern and eastern side
of the island.
"The system will pass to the north
of Tobago and we have focused at-
tention in areas like Charlotteville to
ensure they have adequate emergen-
cy supplies if they are cut off from
the rest of the island."
In addition, he said shelters will be
opened on the north and east sides
of the island and those should have
become operational by eight o'clock
last evening. The emergency man-
agement team did not see the need
for more than ten shelters based on
the threat level, he said.
Community centres in Roxbor-
ough, Delaford, Speyside, Charlotte-
ville, Lanse Fourmi and Golden Lane
were announced as shelters. He said
the shelters will be open during the
passage of the system and will remain
open only if the situation arises.
Although schools are closed for
the July-August vacation period,
Stewart said schools were not being
used as shelters. He said the shelters
were selected based on the analysis
of the path of the storm.
"It will pass north of the island and
communities in those exposed are-
as - Roxborough, Delaford, Speyside
and Charlotteville to some extent -
these are villages we think in a worse-
case scenario, they will be impacted
to some extent."
Benjamin did not expect that Don
would have affected Tobago as badly
as Brett some weeks ago. But he said
there would be heavy rainfall in the
north of Tobago.
Stewart has advised people requir-
ing assistance to call 211 in Tobago
and 511 in Trinidad.
Meanwhile, the Port Authority
cancelled the inter-island sailing for 4
pm yesterday and 6.30 this morning.
AG, DPP will have to fix judicial mess as
Kamla blanks PM's proposal
Don't expect Parliament to
resolve the 53 unfinished mat-
ters left in limbo by former chief
magistrate Marcia Ayers-Cae-
sar. The Government, Attorney
General and the Director of
Public Prosecutions will have
to come up with a solution.
This was the lone issue Prime
Minister Dr Keith Rowley and
Opposition Leader Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar could not see eye to
eye on following a three-hour long
meeting at the Parliament Building,
Having met to iron out issues on
self-governance for Tobago, an-
ti-gang legislation, the judiciary,
Integrity Commission, campaign
finance reform, a code of conduct
for Parliamentarians and service
commissions' effectiveness, Row-
ley said while their discussions were
fruitful and productive, they could
not come to an understanding on
the main problem of the backlog
in the courts and the furore in the
judiciary due to the Ayers-Caesar
"The unpleasant fact is that there
are persons who are incarcerated
and whose cases cannot progress
through the courts because of re-
cent developments," Rowley said.
Rowley said last week when he
noted the matter may end up in the
Parliament, it was after the AG came
to him with proposals from the DPP
indicating the solution could be
legislative through the Summary
Courts Act and Preliminary In-
But after suggesting this with
Persad-Bissessar, he said, "The
Opposition Leader made it quite
clear that the Opposition is not
prepared to support this approach,
because they do not believe that
that approach is sound and there
would be more problems created
than solved because people who
are affected have already begun to
challenge the situation and that
there are certain rights, privileges
and protections to which they are
entitled and this arrangement of
having the DPP intervene and make
rooms and interventions would
trample on some of those rights."
He added: "That solution did not
find favour with the Opposition.
That to me is a clear signal that all
the persons involved need to take
that on board."
Those involved, Rowley said, are
the DPP and the CJ.
Rowley said Persad-Bissessar
made it clear that whatever they
legislate "would be open for chal-
lenge" against the argument used in
the judgement of the repeal of Sec-
tion 34. He said Persad-Bissessar
suggested a tribunal be used under
Section 137 of the Constitution.
Asked if he would consider this
route, the PM said: "I am not go-
ing to advise myself on this matter.
However, he said the Opposition
pointed out that there was pertinent
information that was unavailable
and would only become available
and established by way of a tribunal.
Asked if they had explored
whether the JLSC should be held
accountable to a committee of Par-
liament, Rowley said no.
Given the nature that people are
incarcerated and their rights being
infringed, he said the Government
would not want to fight the Oppo-
sition. Rowley said having listened
to Persad-Bissessar's argument, he
agreed there was good reasoning on
"If we don't solve the problem
we might create new problem," he
At the same time, Rowley said
it appeared that the judiciary was
having difficulty in a way out.
"So I would wait to be properly
advised on this matter."
While Opposition Senators have
called for the removal and Chief
Justice Ivor Archie, the PM said
this matter was not raised.
only way to
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bisses-
sar yesterday rejected a proposal by Prime
Minister Dr Keith Rowley for a legislative
resolution to what she called "the debacle"
over the more than 53 unfinished matters left
behind by former chief magistrate Marcia
The matter has created turmoil in the courts
with acting Chief Magistrate Maria Busby
Earle-Caddle still awaiting instructions on
how to proceed with the affected cases, after
Ayers-Caesar was forced to resign after being
appointed a judge in April and leaving behind
the cases in the lower court.
Rowley proposed that the matter be resolved
through a legislative intervention but Persad-Bis-
sessar objected yesterday, saying such a proposal
may only create a bigger problem. She said Rowley
did not give any details about the proposal ex-
cept to say he wanted to amend the Preliminary
Inquiry Act and Summary Courts Act.
"He did not state exactly what will be done,"
Persad-Bissessar said during a news conference
at the Opposition Leader's office in Port-of-
Persad-Bissessar said the Judicial and Legal
Services Commission (JLSC) matter was "a mess"
but insisted the Opposition was not of the view
"a legislative intervention should be undertaken."
She said she presented evidence to Rowley
about the infamous Section 34 case between
former UNC financier Steve Ferguson and the
attorney general, which showed a "legislative in-
tervention would not stand up and can be struck
down if we should pass legislation."
She said in the Section 34 matter people would
not have been severely disadvantaged by the re-
peal of the law, but in the current matter there
were more than 53 cases before the courts and
some of the accused have been incarcerated." She
said they were "entitled to a judicial determina-
tion and not a legislative one."
Persad-Bissessar said the issue of the separa-
tion of powers also arises in this matter, but there
was no agreement on that issue at the meeting as
Rowley was "very vague" on it. She said the only
way the matter could be properly resolved was
by triggering Section 137 of the Constitution for
the appointment of a tribunal to investigate it.
However, Persad-Bissessar said the Opposi-
tion was of the firm view that the JLSC debacle
had "brought the administration of justice at the
lowest point it has ever been in T&T."
"We cannot just move on as though nothing
has happened," she said, adding that possible
litigation being brought by Ayers-Caesar against
Chief Justice Ivor Archie will further demean
confidence in the administration of justice.
She said Rowley gave no commitment on a
On the system of the appointment of judges,
Persad-Bissessar said she agreed with Rowley
that this process should be looked at.
Dealing with the Integrity Commission, Per-
sad-Bissessar said she did not share Rowley's
view that there was a total loss of confidence in
the body. She said, however, that there was need
to strengthen the commission.
Earlier, Persad-Bissessar said following the
meeting it was clear the Government was in
need of advice and help in many areas.
On the need for internal self government for
Tobago and legislation on election campaign
financing, Persad-Bissessar said there was
agreement in principle. She said the meeting
was a good exercise and welcomed further such
meetings with the PM.
"It's been a fruitful day, well worth the dis-
cussions," she added.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley greets Opposition Leader Kamla
Persad-Bissessar before the start of their meeting at the Parliament
Building in Port-of-Spain yesterday.
PHOTO: COURTESY THE OFFICE OF THE PARLIAMENT
WHAT WAS AGREED TO
Internal self-government for Tobago:
Bring to Parliament by way of Cabinet
what has been produced from Tobago in
the form of a draft legislation and put this
before a House Committee of Government
and Opposition members to undertake a
consultation and try to come to decision of
what the people of Tobago want.
Campaign Finance Reform: Have this
legislation enacted before 2020 general
election. The matter will also go before
the Law Reform Commission as an as-
signment and to conduct whatever public
consultation is required, as well as to come
up with a Green and White Papers for con-
sideration of Parliament.
Anti-gang and bail legislation: It is
the Government's intention, through the
Attorney General, to bring to Parliament
the anti-gang and bail legislations. The
Government will introduce any amend-
ments that may be required to consider
improvements or concerns the Opposition
may have which will remove all obstacles
in passing both legislations.
Crime: The Government will provide by
month end an update of its crime fighting
initiatives. On the legislative side, both
leaders agreed, by way of the AG, to repeal
and replace the current arrangement for a
Commissioner of Police.
Service Commissions: Insisting that
there was poor accountability and ques-
tionable performance, the PM said the
service commissions will be reviewed and
adjustments made. They agreed that T&T
should pattern a Canadian model with re-
spect to the commissions' modernisation.
Integrity Commission: PM expressed
his view to Persad-Bissessar that the com-
mission has lost the confidence of the na-
tional population. The IC will be reviewed
and other models will be considered to
bring about results, which will be taken
to Parliament once there is Opposition
Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians:
Rowley will ask the Clerk of the House to
canvass the Commonwealth, including the
Parliamentary Association, to have a prop-
er code of conduct for Parliamentarians.
Jobs: They agreed to legislative reform
of the Severance Benefit Act to treat with
the closure of companies.
Economy: Rowley gave Persad-Bisses-
sar the assurance they are trying to secure
jobs, while they fight to increase the coun-
Couva Hospital: Rowley said while the
Government tried to get a private/public
participation on the operationalisation of
the hospital, the response was not encour-
aging. The Government may change its
position and reopen the hospital seeing
that the main block of the PoS General
Hospital is not structurally unsound and
would have to be demolished and replaced
by a new building.
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