Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 14th 2014 Contents A5
Saturday, June 14, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Congress of the People chair, Public
Administration Minister Carolyn Seeper-
sad-Bachan, says she is disappointed by
the decision of Prime Minister Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar to retain embattled COP
member and Sport Minister Anil Roberts
in her Cabinet.
In a release on Thursday, Persad-Bissessar
said Roberts would remain in Cabinet, as
she was satisfied that he had nothing to
answer for at this point in time, after accept-
ing his argument in the controversial ganja
Roberts, in his letter, said a video recording
of someone who resembled and sounded
like a Government minster rolling what
appeared to be a ganja cigarette in a hotel
room with two women was mischief in the
extreme. He said he had never used any
form of illicit drugs, nor had he ever frater-
nised with any prostitutes during his tenure
as a member of her Cabinet.
The PM said after hearing the strong
denials from Roberts and the fact that there
was no evidence to corroborate any of the
allegations made, she could not act on calls
to fire Roberts from her Cabinet.
But in Seepersad-Bachan, in a brief inter-
view yesterday, admitted they were not
happy with the PM's decision.
"Yes we are a bit disappointed," she told
the T&T Guardian.
"We stand by our position. Mr Roberts
did not co-operate with us, he did not
address the issue of the video and as a con-
sequence of that we stand by our position
and the suspension stands."
She said she had called a national exec-
utive meeting for today to discuss the latest
developments. She admitted that COP leader
Prakash Ramadhar might have met with
Persad-Bissessar on the issue, but she could
not confirm this and the COP was waiting
to hear the outcome of the meeting if there
had been one.
Ramadhar waiting on clarity
In a separate statement yesterday, Ramad-
har, the Legal Affairs Minister, confirmed
Roberts would remain suspended from the
party, on the basis of his failure to co-operate
with the party and to provide clarity as to
his presence, or lack thereof, in a video
within the public domain.
Ramadhar said while the COP respected
Roberts's legal right to silence, it could not
ignore its greater duty to its membership
and the national community to ensure that
representatives of the COP adhered to the
highest standards of behaviour.
He said the suspension would remain in
effect "until he co-operates fully with the
party and until he provides the clarity which
the party requires to make informed deci-
Ramadhar also commented on the sep-
arate issue of whether Roberts was guilty
In that regard, he said the COP maintained
that the concept of natural justice, which
guaranteed the right of individuals to due
process and which presumed a person to
be innocent until proven guilty, had been
and continues to be central to its philosophy.
Ramadhar said on the basis of that philos-
ophy, the COP must respect the PM's deci-
sion to keep Roberts in the Cabinet.
However, Ramadhar noted, "It is disap-
pointing that while Roberts moved with
alacrity to provide the Prime Minister with
a written report on the matter, he has refused
to do likewise with the party to which he
He said the COP remained open to be
re-engaged on the matter.
Dear Honourable Prime Minister,
Re: Request for clarification on what is
being called as a viral video that has
grabbed the attention of the media over
the last fortnight
Let me state at the onset that I, Anil
O.E. Roberts, have never indulged, par-
taken or used any illegal drugs in my entire
life nor have I ever indulged, solicited,
requested, engaged or employed any form
of prostitution. Further, I have no recol-
lection of the events portrayed in the
I confirm that I have not used any drugs
inclusive of marijuana during my tenure
as a Minister of your Government. It is
with great sadness that I have watched a
relentless media campaign designed to
defame, hurt and disrespect not only me
but my wife, children and unborn child,
as well as my constituents, my government
and you my beloved Prime Minister.
Since this "news item" was first broad-
cast on the preferred station of our detrac-
tors, and may I remind you that accusa-
tions and innuendo about a video
resembling what we now witness were
thrown at me by none other than Dr. Keith
Rowley, Senator Faris Al-Rawi and Fitzger-
ald Hinds among others, as well as the
PNM's preferred newspaper the TnT Mir-
ror over a year and a half ago.
There has been no legitimate allegation
being made or to be made by any official
agency and no investigation launched
against me. To this point not one allegation
of misconduct, criminal activity or activity
warranting further investigation has been
made. I have been instructed by my attor-
neys to remain absolutely silent on the
From what I have seen in the video, I
am unable to determine when it was,
where it was, and what substance is alleged
to have been held by me. Indeed, there
is no material visible. In much the same
way, I have been advised by my attorneys
that there is no way in which any of the
material displayed on the video may be
verified. The production of this video is
an extreme form of mischief which places
one in an unenviable place to defend'
oneself by making statements and pro-
nouncements that in turn will be used in
tandem with the video of dubious origin
and delayed production to condemn the
I was informed through the media of
a decision made by the Congress of the
People purporting to suspend me. I attach
my letter of inquiry, which to date remains
unanswered. I note in the Trinidad Express
reported comments of the chairman of
the party admitting that the constitution
of the party contains no power to suspend
me, and there is a nebulous reference to
a code of ethics.
I also note that the production of this
video was in tandem with a sledgehammer
of misinformation attacking the LifeSport
programme. This programme remains a
most innovative reformation programme
that signals hope to the much maligned
and at risk youth. I attach a statement of
the director of the programme which rub-
bishes all of the reports. I respectfully also
await the outcome of the investigation.
Honourable Prime Minister, as your
Minister of Sport, as your member of Par-
liament for D'abadie O'meara, your sup-
porter and a patriot who has served my
beloved country as a former national
swimmer, a former national footballer and
a national olympic medal winning coach,
I assure you that I have never taken, used
or experimented with illicit or illegal drugs
nor have I ever been involved in any form
or fashion with prostitutes as has been
implied by Dr. Keith Rowley. I certainly
have not treated lightly with the trust and
confidence in which you have reposed in
me and I remain at your service.
Anil's suspension remains
COP execs upset over PM's decision but...
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar chats with Sport Minister Anil Roberts during
yesterday's sitting of the House of Representatives at Tower D, International Waterfront,
Port-of-Spain. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
Opposition MP Terrence Deyalsingh says media
workers would be facing heavy fines and jail terms
for breaches under the new cyberspace legislation
being debated in Parliament if it becomes law.
Deyalsingh was the first to respond to the leg-
islation, which was presented yesterday by National
Security Minister Gary Griffith.
It seeks to create at least 17 new cybercrime
offences. The legislation contravenes Sections 3
and 4 of the Constitution and consequently requires
a special three/fifths majority vote for passage.
But Deyalsingh, from early in his contribution,
said the Opposition was not going to support the
legislation, despite agreeing that it was needed. He
said Section 21 (1) and (2) of the bill targeted the
Deyalsingh said while the Government last year
amended the defamation law to prevent journalists
from being given jail terms for breaches, the new
bill has provisions for jail terms to be imposed on
"They are now putting it back (criminal libel)
with harsher penalties," he argued.
Deyalsingh, the St Joseph MP, said the Govern-
ment has betrayed their "friends in the media" by
presenting the bill.
The MP said he would like to get the media to
give their opinion on Section 21 of the bill.
He also told legislators he wanted "to know if
certain Facebook bullies are going to be caught
under this (legislation)."
He then referred to "Mr PEA, especially---a cyber-
bully, if ever there was one. A good friend of the
Government, an apologist of the Government."
He said under Section 23 of the proposed leg-
islation, "body corporate", including media houses,
are subject to certain penalties for breaches. He
said the proposed law has "more onerous terms
and you jail them for longer."
He said Griffith must tell the Parliament if they
consulted with the Media Association of T&T on
the bill. He also wanted to know the Caribbean
Association of Media Workers, Law Association
and Criminal Bar Association's views on the bill.
Deyalsingh said the Opposition was not opposing
the legislation for opposing sake, but seeking to
uphold the Constitution. He said Griffith did not
explain what was the articulation of the legislation
and the T&T Police Cybercrime Unit.
During the debate, Minister of State in the Envi-
ronment Ministry Ramona Ramdial said the leg-
islation was necessary to deal with instances of
hacking. She recalled that over a year ago her e-
mail was hacked and upon investigation by the
police, it was traced to a Nigerian in the UK who
was seeking money from her friends via her e-
Opposition MP Fitzgerald Hinds also told Par-
liament his e-mail was hacked recently, so too did
Cumuto/Manzanilla MP Collin Partap in his con-
Media main target
of PP's new cyber
Section 21. (1) A person who uses a computer
(a) coerce, intimidate or harass another person
with intent to cause emotional distress; or
(b) cyberbully, intentionally or recklessly,
another person, commits an offence.
(2) A person who uses a computer system to
disseminate any information, statement or image,
knowing the same to be false, and who--
(a) damages the reputation of another person;
(b) subjects another person to public ridicule,
contempt, hatred or embarrassment, commits an
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