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Independent Senator Helen Drayton yesterday
called National Security Minister Gary Griffith
"disrespectful" for his response to a letter to a
newspaper from retired Major Gen Ralph Brown,
in which Brown said the patrols by soldiers in
Laventille were illegal.
During her contribution to the Miscellaneous
Provisions (Prisons) Bill yesterday, Drayton scolded
Griffith, saying as a junior to the retired Brown,
Griffith was "out of place" and "out of sync with
the public reality."
Griffith resigned from the Regiment at the rank
In a newspaper report on Monday, Griffith crit-
icised Brown, saying the retired general had a prob-
lem with understanding the difference between an
operation and an independent patrol.
Griffith was quoted as saying: "Thankfully, he
does not hold any position of authority because if
he did, then he would have turned this situation
into one big mess."
Drayton, who read excerpts from Brown s letter,
told Griffith: "With all due respect, sir, if you did
say that, you were highly disrespectful of a retired
senior of the Defence Force, who came to the rescue
of this country in 1990 during the attempted coup,
and who has served this country with courage, dig-
nity and humility, a humility that is lacking in the
Ministry of National Security.
"There was no need to attack the integrity of
this retired and honoured soldier, more so when he
was right in his statement."
Drayton said the issue was not whether soldiers
were operating with police as they had done that
"It is not an issue of whether Laventille is sleeping
more peacefully with the soldiers there. It is an
issue of are they operating illegally or legally? That
is the issue."
Drayton said it was an indictment on the criminal
justice system, when civilians are afraid to lodge
complaints with the official authorities and felt
they must do so first through the media. So the
Minister of National Security should take note, she
"It should send them a message that in fact the
Ministry of National Security is missing in action
and that is why soldiers were operating independ-
ently of police outside of a proper legal framework,"
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Uproar over CJ's role
for 22nd JULY, 2014
Opposition and Independent Senators
have expressed concern over a revelation
by Justice Minister Emmanuel George that
Chief Justice (CJ) Ivor Archie had an input
in the Prison Amendment Bill before it was
brought to the Senate for debate yesterday.
The bill seeks to impose heavier fines and
longer jail terms for offences committed
under the act, including breaking out of
It also creates a new body corporate, called
the Inspectorate of Prisons, to be headed by
a Chief Prison Inspector and a Deputy Prison
Inspector. Those positions are to be filled
on the recommendation of the Minister of
George s revelation was made while thank-
ing Archie and the Law Association "for
their input into this particular bill."
He said the Government had "sought their
input before the bill was finalised." George
then quoted part of a letter sent to him by
Archie in March in response to a letter dated
December 23, 2013.
Archie began by apologising to George for
the delay in his response.
George said the CJ s letter said: "I have
enclosed for your perusal the comments of
the Judiciary on the Miscellaneous Provisions
The minister said the CJ invited him to
contact him if he had any concerns about
the Judiciary s comments and added: "The
ministry did consult with the Judiciary and
also the Law Association."
He said the association "did respond, via
a letter from Ravi Rajcoomar, senior member,"
and expressed support for the creation of
the Inspectorate of Prisons, saying it was
"correct and complies with modern inter-
Independent Senator Helen Drayton then
raised concerns about the role of the CJ,
describing the minister s revelation about
the CJ as "very peculiar. So if there is a
matter pertaining to this bill, how does the
Chief Justice get involved and I am asking
whether that was appropriate."
George did not respond directly but went
on to give more details of the CJ s role.
He said there was an issue of making HIV
testing compulsory, "and on that particular
matter I think the Chief Justice/the Judiciary
were at pains to point out that we would
be stepping way beyond our bounds of the
constitutional rights of people to seek (to
make) HIV testing compulsory among pris-
He said Archie presented a very cogent
argument on that point.
"So on that particular issue we did value
the input of the Chief Justice," George told
Independent Senator Elton Prescott, SC,
rose in agreement with Drayton and asked
if George was prepared to give the full content
of the CJ s advice, saying that "was inap-
propriate in the first place."
Prescott added: "Either you tell us all that
he has said or tell us why we are being
exposed to it."
Opposition Senator Faris Al-Rawi then
said the minister should provide copies of
the correspondence. George responded that
he could circulate a copy.
Minutes later, leader of Opposition busi-
ness Camille Robinson-Regis said she was
"quite concerned" about George s decision
to bring into the Parliament debate the cor-
respondence received from the Chief Justice.
She said her concern was heightened by the
fact that he read a line from the letter into
the parliamentary records.
Robinson-Regis said if Archie had
"expressed no concerns over this piece of
legislation, then it heightens my concern
with what is taking place in the criminal
The issue with the legislation, she said,
was that the measure was "fraught with
problems and issues that need to be
addressed more fully." She said George had
skirted over the issues affecting prisoners,
prison officers and the criminal justice sys-
She also expressed concern over the criteria
for appointment of the Chief Inspector of
Prisons and his deputy, saying that should
not be allowed to happen without any ref-
erence to the Chief Personnel Officer or any
other human resource agency.
The Senate is expected to meet again today
to discuss private members business.
A WORK IN PROGRESS
historic George Brown
House at the corner
of Victoria Avenue
and Queen's Park
South, Port of Spain,
on Monday. The 18th
century house, which
is named after its
architect, was the
centre of controversy
after plans were
afoot to have it
demolished to make
way for an office
complex but due to
public outcry it was
saved and later
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