22 May 2015

Thought of the Day

Integrity has to mean something for the people of Trinidad and Tobago and if it doesn't it, then I am sorry. I stand by principle, let's just do the right thing because it's the right thing to do, let's just do that.

I just want to stand up for what is right, was is truthful and what is honest.

Justice S Ventour – in the Daily Express

16 May 2015

Sheer stupidity of Government MPs

life yetI am partially amused but also greatly alarmed at the sheer stupidity and ignorance of the law displayed by government MPs, many of who are supposed to be lawyers. I’m alarmed and amused because they can be quite verbose in quoting the very principles, such as the rule of law, which they breach with the utmost calm, and yet still tell you they are following the same principles they breach. Talk about pissing in your face and telling you it’s rain!

The PM, herself allegedly a lawyer and SC, along with Roodal Moonilal (LLB) and Prakash Ramadhar (who was building quite a reputation – Like Anand Ramlogan – in private practice) have now amply demonstrated (at least, to me) that they nothing of the principles and content of the law they are sworn to uphold.

Let’s just look at some examples:

To recap:

In May 2013, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, during his motion of no confidence against the People's Partnership Government and the Prime Minister, disclosed the contents of 31 e-mails, purporting to be exchanges between Persad-Bissessar, Ramlogan, former minister of local government Surujrattan Rambachan and then-national security adviser to the Prime Minister Gary Griffith.

The e-mails alleged these high office-hol­ders were conspiring to harm a journalist; plant electronic spying devices in the Office of the DPP; offer the DPP a judgeship; and to accept payment from an unnamed woman, in exchange for the freedom of people involved in the Section 34 fiasco in September 2012.

The Prime Minister says that, following the letter of censure by the deputy DPP, even the DPP validated her claim that the emails were fake. Specifically, she noted that since the email address of anan@gmail.com was fake, therefore the contents of the email were fake as well. The sheer dotishness line of ‘reasoning’ of this amazed me.

The PM also noted that she ‘could not wait on the official channels’ for the investigations to be completed, or WTTE. This was echoed by Prakash Ramadhar, he of the jellyfish spine.

This entire situation of the Prime Minister clearing herself and her party by quoting a lawyer she is paying, is analogous to your defence attorney standing on the steps of the courthouse loudly proclaiming your innocence. Nothing wrong with that, you might say. The problem lies with that all important detail, that the case has not yet been heard in the proper forum, i.e. inside the court, before the duly authorised trier of facts. The deputy DPP is completely right in saying that the Prime Minister cannot be airing ‘the supposed results’ and not minding the legal maxim, “no man should be a judge in his own cause”.

But if the government, the legislators/executive, cannot wait on the judicial process, what do they expect the common man to do?? You see the irony here, I hope. You can’t make this shit up.

Once more, this government, contrary to the much-touted phrase ‘the rule of law’, has shown that it has NO regard for said rule of law. Worse, it appears to have no understanding of the concept of the rule of law, and it took another attorney to beat that home. But like a stubborn donkey, I dare say it hasn’t yet learnt the lesson.

Say what, there is life in this story yet.

14 May 2015

Take that and HUSH, Kamla.

PRESS RELEASE

BY THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS

RE: INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE EMAIL DISCLOSURES IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES BETWEEN

MAY 20, 2013 AND MAY 24, 2013

Through various reports in the electronic and print media, it has become obvious that certain correspondence from the United States Department of Justice, sent to the Police Investigative team through the Central Authority, has found its way into the hands of parties who are not members of the Investigative or advising Prosecutorial teams. While the articles are numerous, the following excerpts are instructive:

At page A3 of the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian of Saturday May 9th 2015, Richard Lord reports that the Honourable Prime Minister Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar said that she:

“had a duty to myself and the members of my Government to have that record cleared in the Parliament, because now is when we got the evidence from independent sources. “We got the evidence through court processes from Google, the Integrity Commission and the US Justice Department. “[emphasis mine]

In another report at page 4 of the Daily Express of Thursday May 7th, 2015 Ms. Ria Taitt reported as follows:

“Moonilal cited the number of authorities which said the e-mails were false. These included a report from an IT. Specialist in the Attorney General’s department, Mr. Roger Sealy; a report from John Berryhill, which called the document a ‘poorly constructed fraud; Jack Rousseau, of the Computer Law Group, in the case of the Integrity Commission versus Google; and the Report of the Justice Department to the head of Central Authority....”

Further, the following is an excerpt from a. page 3 report in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday of Monday April 27, 2015 by writer Andre Bagoo who reported in reference to the Honourable Prime Minister,

“She said the latest disclosures of records to the Integrity Commission concurred with a report by John Berryhill — a former officer in the US Air Force Reserve Office of Special Investigations. They also concurred with disclosures to the Police Service done through the U.S Justice Department.”

Mr. Bagoo ascribed the following words to the Honourable Prime Minister Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar:

“Three sources have now showed us there is no substance, no truth to the fake emails”

In the Daily Express of Friday 8th May, 2015 at page 5 reporter Anna Ramdass recited the full text of a letter dated January 29 2015, from the Acting Director of the United States Department of Justice to Mr. Netram Kowlessar, Head of the Central Authority. This letter and its annexures, the product of a warrant obtained by the United States Department of Justice, were sent to the Police Investigative Team.

It is apparent from the contents of this letter that it should not have found its way into the public domain, since information garnered by way of compliance with, requests for Mutual Legal Assistance, must be used by the receiving State, only in the investigation and prosecution of persons and offences for which assistance has been requested and granted. It is standard practice as it is universally accepted, that in those matters to use this information otherwise is only permissible with the express approval or authorisation of the United States Department of Justice.

I am seized of information which clearly indicates that no such approval of authorisation from the United States Department of Justice was sought by the Central Authority or approved by the United States Department of Justice. It should be noted that the Central Authority is the only body legally authorised to make such a request.

Therefore, the use of this information in the public arena, without the permission of one’s international partner is especially disturbing and dangerous, since such action violates what is to be expected by way of international cooperation and more particularly, it attracts question marks as to our ability to honour our international legal obligations, thus potentially influencing, negatively, the outcome of future requests by Trinidad and Tobago for Mutual Legal Assistance.

Against this backdrop, the public interest demands that I place into the public domain my deep concern over these occurrences and urge those concerned, who should obviously know better, to act in a manner consonant with a greater sense of responsibility.

It is also my view that this is an appropriate juncture to update the public on certain matters arising out of the police investigation, now commonly referred to as the “Emailgate Investigation”.

As you may be aware, this investigation relates not only to whether the emails were in fact sent in September 2012 but also to whether there may have been acts by particular persons which amount to Misconduct in Public Office. The investigation necessarily includes an examination of events outside of the four corners of the purported email correspondence, since these may have the potential to confirm or refute the disputed email communications.

The Investigative Team commenced investigations after .the purported emails were forwarded by the Honourable Prime Minister under cover of a letter dated May 20, 2013 to the acting Commissioner of Police, for investigation.

Having acquired evidence, which in my view attained the appropriate evidentiary threshold, the investigators approached the Central Authority under cover of a letter dated 4th November 2014, for an application to be made for Mutual Legal Assistance.

The United States Department of Justice, being of the view that the application was supported by evidence which met the required level of ‘probable cause’, applied for and received a warrant in the United States of America.

This warrant was to be served on certain service providers, among them Google Inc. A response from the Department of Justice was received through the Central Authority by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Glen. Hackett on February 6th, 2015.

Against this backdrop I wish to make the following observations:

(i) While it is true, that after receipt of the information from the Department of Justice, the police team, led, by Superintendent Baldeo Nanan did send a report to Deputy Commissioner of Police Glen Hackett, it is not true that such report cleared Mr. Anand Ramlogan and Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar in respect of this investigation. This is contrary to a report given by Nalini Seelal in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday dated April 28th, 2015 at page 5.

(ii) The United States Department of Justice’s response did not treat with all of the matters requested by the Investigative Team and further, the United States Department of Justice is yet to relay any information related to the Hotmail accounts “captaingarygriffith@hotmail.com” and “surujrambachan@hotmail.com”. They have indicated that such information will be sent as soon as possible. Quite properly, there was absolutely no finding made by the United States Department of Justice nor was any disclosed in written correspondence. The United States Department of Justice was concerned only with relaying the data or information that was received by virtue of the above-mentioned warrant. This is its legal remit.

(iii) At this time the police investigation has not yet resulted in any finding, whether through the Mutual. Legal Assistance channels or otherwise, that the emails were or were not sent. To give the impression that there has been some finality in this regard is misleading.

(iv) Any parallel investigation by interested parties and the public airing of the supposed results are palpably self-serving and bring to mind the need for the legal maxim, “no man should be a judge in his own cause”. This is a bedrock principle of natural justice, the rule of law and due process. It exists to ensure impartiality by the disqualification of potentially biased or interested parties in the investigations. Further, notwithstanding the fact that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service has the institutional strength and history to withstand pressure from whatever source, the publication of this information derived from private sources, has the potential to interfere with the investigations being conducted by independent and impartial bodies, such as, the Integrity Commission and the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. Moreover, it has the potential to interfere with the public perception of the soundness of these investigations.

Finally, I feel compelled to indicate that given the status and standing of those persons whose names are raised in this investigation and the national attention that it has obviously generated, it is my view that a comprehensive and speedy resolution is warranted. However, the investigation can only proceed as quickly as evidence is gathered whether by way of mutual legal assistance or otherwise.

Accordingly, it is my view that the police investigative team requires additional time to conclude their investigation. I note with interest that it has been reported in the media that the acting Police Commissioner and the Integrity Commission also share the view that more time is needed.

I am ever mindful that public confidence in the certainty of the eventual findings, whatever the outcome, should be given primacy over expediency. It is therefore with the interest of the Trinidad and Tobago public foremost in mind that I urge all concerned whether directly or indirectly, to allow the police investigators the time and space to complete their investigations without fear, favour, malice, ill-will or hindrance.

Joan Honore-Paul,

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions

May 13, 2015

8 May 2015

Abusing Parliament

When KP-B won the general election in Trinidad and Tobago in May 2010, she secured a majority in Parliament when she formed the new government from a coalition of parties. Since then, she has used this majority to the detriment of Trinidad and Tobago, in systematically (and with increasing degradation) abusing the authority and respect of Parliament. There are many instances, in fact too many to cite (just click on the "political" label on the side panel) where the government has made a mockery of Parliament, parliamentary privileges and the standing orders.

Just when I thought they had reached an all-time low with Vernella Alleyne-Toppin’s mischievous and crass contribution, KP-B has once again used that majority with detrimental effect. In a malicious and strategic ploy, she has moved a motion of censure against Keith Rowley and had him suspended from Parliament. In essence, this has taken away the representation of his constituency as well as leaving the Opposition without its democratically elected leader.

Just to make it clear, I can find no instance of this anywhere in the world, where common law and the Westminster system of government is practised, that this has happened. It is not illegal but yet, it is not right. It has again revealed a constitutional flaw - where the government can do the same to each individual member of the Opposition and effectively have each member suspended from Parliament and conduct business completely unopposed. This view is supported by former Prime Minister, Basdeo Panday:

“What happened here is that the Government has used its majority to expel a person from Parliament and if the Standing Orders and the Constitution give them the right to expel every member of the Opposition and run a Government without an Opposition.”

Dr Rowley’s suspension also means that he will not be paid, losing some $47,000 per month.

What is even stranger, is that Dr Rowley was suspended for an issue that has not yet been completely investigated by the authorities. The Integrity Commission, and the legal department of the police service, have yet to analyse the contents of the data provided by Google concerning "email-gate". The public may remember that this issue was about some emails that Dr Rowley had read in Parliament, and which pointed to a conspiracy about the infamous section 34 loophole, which allowed some UNC (government) financiers to escape corruption charges.

This situation tells me 2 things:

  1. The government is worried about the opposition with another general election just around the corner. The incumbent prime minister seems to be extremely worried that her party will not be re-elected and thus seeks to make Dr Rowley a scapegoat and undesirable at the polls. She appears to have lost faith in her party's performance and in the public's loyalty to choose her.
  2. It also seems to me that she is worried about the final outcome of the data presented by Google, and is "taking in front" as we say in Trinidad and Tobago. In other words, she is anticipating or uncertain of a negative outcome and is making it next to impossible for Dr Rowley to take advantage of that. Dr Rowley will certainly not be protected by parliamentary privilege if he makes any statement from now on, leading the possibility of civil action against him. It is a rather droll situation.
I hold no brief for this or any government that practice such scurrilous activities. This latest strategy smacks of yet another creeping dictatorship, which is coupled with so many broken promises, abuses, outright half-truths, lies and innuendoes that one may be forgiven for thinking it is a reality show called "Insanity Gone Wild". It is masturbating over the face of a public prostituting itself, and claiming to deliver milk and honey.