Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 10th 2014 Contents A7
August 10, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
practice provided the
opportunity for the
recent public consul-
tation with the Con-
In a release yester-
day, he said there was
a continuous response
to certain constitution-
al amendments in the
new bill expected to be
debated tomorrow in
Teelucksingh said, "There will not be in the fore-
seeable future any near perfect Constitution.
"That is a pipe dream. Instead, we may have to
settle for the not so desirable piece-meal consti-
"Now it is the turn of the Members of Parliament
to make their contributions.
"Let the debate begin and if necessary, delay the
He advised against rushing the process, as citizens
needed to hear from their Members of Parliament
Teelucksingh said the Government would continue
to receive further public comment, as evidenced
during the last few days, particularly regarding the
Achilles heel in the amendments, namely, the recall
clause and the runoff provision.
He said, hopefully, there could be compromises,
deletions or further amendments of the Constitution
Amendment Bill 2014.
Teelucksingh said the search for a workable, tol-
erable constitutional formula was best achieved
both by the people and its Parliament.
He said he had always advocated for a consti-
tutional system which would remove tribalism and
race politics which thrived under the present West-
minster model of governance.
Teelucksingh said now was the time for citizens
to devise some constitutional provision which would
eliminate race from national politics.
The Constitution Reform Forum (CRF)
has added its voice to appeals for the recall
of the proposed Constitution Amendment
Bill 2014. In a press release sent yesterday,
the CRF said the proposed bill shows the
Government s disregard for the contribu-
tions of those who participated in the con-
sultation exercises on constitution reform.
On the topic of the two-term limit for
prime ministers, the CRF said while several
participants supported the idea, the provision
would require a separate election for the
prime minister, adding that "this has impli-
cations for the method used for electing
the President and thereafter for matters
pertaining to the powers of the prime min-
ister vis-à-vis those of the President."
The press release went on to say that
while the right of recall for non-performing
MPs was "widely supported" during the
consultations, certain constitutional provi-
sions would have to be addressed to make
the provision practicable. It said the proposal
could not be viewed in isolation, adding
that the recent resignation of Anil Roberts
as MP for D Abadie/O Meara gave a "sense
of the confusion that can arise."
The CRF described the proposal for a
runoff election as a cause for concern since
it did not come out of the constitution
reform consultations. It said participants
highlighted the effects of the current two-
party system and some proposed that the
proportional representation system be intro-
duced to replace or to be used alongside
the first-past-the-post system to allow for
The CRF said the passage of the bill would
undermine the efforts towards strengthening
T&T s democracy and called on citizens to
take part in its forums so that the national
debate could continue.
Former solicitor general Eleanor Don-
aldson-Honeywell has left behind a policy
that, if implemented, could effectively ban
all legal officers working in that office from
giving evidence in court on cases involving
The policy document, Legal Profession
Privilege Policy, is open to public comment
on the Attorney General s Web site
www.ag.gov.tt but has been described as
"suspicious and illegal" by former attorney
general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj.
The six-item policy paper seeks to "pro-
hibit" any disclosure "whether on a voluntary
basis or under compulsion in all circum-
stances including pre-trial, at court, for
investigative purposes or disciplinary pur-
The policy also covers all clients of the
AG s office including "all government min-
istries and employees thereof including but
not limited to officers of the civil, police,
prison, fire and health services."
The document also states that "disclosure
of privileged communications other than in
keeping with this policy may constitute mis-
conduct and/or a breach of the law officer s
This puts an effective gag on all legal offi-
cers attached to the AG s office, even if called
upon to give evidence in matters against the
State in court.
The Sunday Guardian understands that
the details of the policy are in contravention
of the basic tenets of Commonwealth law
which subscribes to a "special" relationship
between the AG s office and the courts and
which expects candour and frank disclosure
from the Attorney General s office and its
Maharaj, in a telephone interview with
the Sunday Guardian, said the pending policy
was also "contrary to law."
"It is unheard of as it instructs legal officers
to compromise the law. No legal officer
should accede to this policy," he said.
Maharaj said both the AG and legal officers
of that office were "duty bound" to act in
the public interest and disclose all material
matters to assist the courts in getting to the
"In that context, the courts have a long-
held partnership with the AG and expect
full and frank disclosure. If this policy is
implemented, legal officers can be held in
contempt of court. Legal officers have a duty
to disclose evidence to court or the DPP
(Director of Public Prosecutions). This policy
can now cause three things---legal officers
who acceded to it will be acting contrary to
the principles of the legal profession, failing
in their duty to the court and they can
incriminate themselves," he said.
"This policy is not only illegal but it seems
to be an attempt to cover up wrongdoing,"
Let the debate
begin ...and if necessary
delay the final vote
'Passage of Constitution bill
will undermine T&T's democracy'
Ramlogan: It's not on my agenda
But Ramlogan, in a telephone interview
with the Sunday Guardian on Friday, dis-
missed such allegations.
Ramlogan said the policy was not his
idea and was not on his list of priorities.
"This has not been on my agenda but
now that it has been brought to the fore, I
would review the policy to ensure that at-
torneys in the ministry are not in any way
restricted from making full and frank dis-
closure to any investigative body or the
courts," he said.
Ramlogan confirmed that while the
wording was "questionable," he did not
think that the objective of the policy was
to gag attorneys. "I do not believe that
was the intent. If the drafting suggests
otherwise, it may have been inadvertent,
an error or else an oversight on the part of
the former solicitor general," he said.
...Ramlogan to review former solicitor general's draft
New policy to 'gag'
lawyers at AG's office
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan
A member of the Defence Force was
detained and charged with obstructing
a police officer yesterday.
A release from the Defence Force stated
that at approximately 1:30 am at Endeavour
Village, Chaguanas, a party of officers
were in the process of questioning a man
involved in an altercation when the
unnamed senior officer of the Defence
Force identified himself and intervened.
"Police officers claimed that the Defence
Force officer was eventually detained and
later charged at the Chaguanas Police Sta-
tion on a number of charges including
obstructing a police officer from conduct-
ing his duties," the release said.
The officer is expected to appear before
the court tomorrow to answer the charges
laid against him.
"The Defence Force is currently working
in conjunction with the Police Service to
determine the facts surrounding the inci-
dent and is committed to allowing due
process to take place in this matter," the
Army officer detained
"I do not believe that was the intent.
If the drafting suggests otherwise, it
may have been inadvertent, an error
or else an oversight on the part of
the former solicitor general."
---ATTORNEY GENERAL ANAND RAMLOGAN
Rev Daniel Teelucksingh
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