Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 19th 2014 Contents A7
January 19, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Prime Minister Kamla
leave for Cuba on Sat-
urday to attend a sum-
mit of Heads of State
and Government at The
Community of Latin
canos y Caribeños), of
which T&T is a mem-
attend the summit on
January 28 and 29, fol-
lowing an invitation by
Persad-Bissessar leaves for Cuba on Saturday
Citizens will have to vote
twice in the next general elec-
tion, due in 2015, if a recom-
mendation by the Constitution
Commission to have senators
elected is approved.
The commission, chaired by
Legal Affairs Minister Prakash
Ramadhar, completed its report
on December 27 after months
of public and private consulta-
tions with stakeholders.
The report also recommends
that the Prime Minister and
Cabinet ministers be senators,
and not MPs.
"If ministers are drawn from
the Senate only, and not from
the House of Representatives,
this will make the Senate the
focus of executive power," the
report said, adding: "...the
House of Representatives will
become more effective of its
name in respect of duties to be
performed by its members."
The commission said the
House of Representatives could
play "a new and enhanced role
of scrutiny for the Parliament."
It said MPs could address con-
stituency matters there and also
serve parliamentary committees
to keep the Government in
On the reform of Parliament,
the report recommended that
senators (apart from the nine to
be appointed by the President)
be elected by a system of pro-
portional representation using
the Hare method; it also sug-
gested an increase by ten in the
number of senators to 41.
"Each voter should be entitled
to two votes, one for his/her MP
in the House of Representatives
and the second vote for a party
list in the Senate," it said.
Under the proposed propor-
tional representation system for
electing senators, the Ramadhar
Commission said each political
party contesting the election
would present a list of candi-
dates, including its choice for
The Elections and Boundaries
Commission (EBC) would
inform the president of the party
which gets more than 50 per
cent of votes cast; and he will
subsequently appoint the party's
prime ministerial candidate as
"If no party list earns such a
majority of votes, the elected
senators would choose a prime
minister at their first sitting."
The report said that election
would be presided over by the
Senate President; only prime
ministerial candidates listed for
the General Election would be
If the Senate fails to elect a
prime minister, the report said
the "President shall appoint as
Prime Minister, the person
whose list earned the largest
single number of votes cast."
PM, ministers should
be senators, not MPs
Cuba's President Raul
On 28 January, 2013,
the second summit for
Celac was held in San-
tiago, Chile, where the
presidency was passed
from Chile's Sebastian
Pinera to Castro.
PM on the trip will be
Foreign Affairs Minister
Winston Dookeran and
other government offi-
Celac, which has a
regional block of 33
Latin American and
Caribbean states, aims
to unite all of the Latin
Caribbean states in
order to strengthen the
political, social and cul-
tural integration of the
region, improve its qual-
ity of life, and stimulate
its economic growth.
Choose PM and Cabinet from
senators, not MPs;
Give executive power to the
Elect senators by proportional
Increase number of senators
Each voter gets two votes: one
for an MP, one for a party list in
Review relationship between
Office of the AG and DPP;
Give the DPP an independent
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan on Friday
appealed to the Opposition to support the Libel
and Defamation Amendment Bill 2013, stating
it was the right thing to do.
Ramlogan said the Government was proud to
be associated with this "particular legislative meas-
ure" because after 169 years, the PP Government
was moving to abolish malicious criminal defama-
tion, which he described as a step in the right
direction, aimed at advancing a better relationship
between the State and the media.
However, Diego Martin North/East Colm Imbert
in response to Ramlogan in the House of Repre-
sentatives said, "We must be very careful in this
Parliament about what we do. Once it is done, it
is impossible to reverse it."
The bill seeks to repeal Section 9 of the Libel
and Defamation Act, consequently abolishing the
offence of malicious defamatory libel.
The existing Section 9 imposes a fine and one
year of imprisonment on a person convicted of
maliciously publishing any defamatory libel.
Imbert said the country would not see a future
Parliament if the Government tampers with the
Imbert said in the last three years, the Govern-
ment had expressed anger about things that were
published in the newspapers.
Imbert said in March of 2013, Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar attacked rogue elements
in the media. The PM, Imbert said, claimed the
media was not being fair to the Government on
the reporting of its achievements.
Imbert said studies showed that 158 countries
still had criminal defamation laws of some kind.
Ramlogan cited the phone hacking scandal in
United Kingdom, which revealed that the press
was not as free and independent as the British
citizenry thought, since the press operated not
only with a political agenda, but a political vendetta.
He said while no government in T&T had moved
to charge or prosecute a journalist under this law,
there have been some irresponsible journalists.
On the flip side, Ramlogan said by and large
the press has been self-regulating by publishing
corrections; he praised this.
Ramlogan said in many countries the media
can take a hard line position and "beat up on you
until they completely bury you."
Imbert to Govt:
Hold your hands
on Libel Bill
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