5 May 2012

Will the real Anand Ramlogan please step forward - now!

My blog today is in relation to TT Express 2012-05-05 - Anand: Don't refuse half loaf. I don't think anybody is terribly opposed to the principle of having the equivalent of the Privy Council closer in proximity to 'home'. What the public have so far not seen are the facts - if they exist - that would drive such a decision. I'm talking about hard data to support every reason that counts towards making the change.

What is emerging is how politics muddies the water in all this. Subject to media misreporting of the facts - what I understand so far is that the CCJ is meant to become the final court of appeal for criminal matters - if the Gov't has its way.

The Privy Council as rightly explained by De La Bastide and others, is not a final court of appeal for "criminal matters". It never was - and it is NOT that something on that score is lacking, at all. The media and politicians are collectively responsible for misinforming the population, into believing many wrong things about the role of the Privy Council.

Well here it is the whole truth: The Privy Council is the highest court of appeal on any matter where there is a relevant Constitutional issue - be it criminal or civil or any other. The PC does not say 'hang him', 'jail him', 'make dat one pay up'. I urge all citizens to access the Privy Council's Website and read some of the judgments they have made. You don't have to be a lawyer to read and understand law.

What the AG is not making absolutely clear is whether the government intends to have altered, the Constitution, in a way that prevents any appeal based on a 'Constitutional point of law' from reaching the Privy Council - side-tracking them to the CCJ only and finally - if such appeal arises from a case in the criminal courts.

To do that will effectively mean that criminals (convicted by local courts as they would be) will be treated differently to anybody else i.e. if you 'about to swing' - your life to be taken from you (worse case scenario) on some contested Constitutional principle, you go one way to the CCJ - but if it's not a matter of your life, you can go to the Privy Council.

That will mean that T&T will have two highest Constitutional Courts - one for criminal matters and the other for non-criminal matters. The subtext of that is to mean that the CCJ will do something better overall in the delivery of justice than what the Privy Council will have previously done in so-called ‘criminal matters’? I was afraid to make that as a statement because it would appear as so barking mad a conclusion - but that is where I see all this heading. It is total nonsense to drive this through when large sections of the population don't even know what the Privy Council is about or how it might relate to them.

I really have to wonder about when the AG was just 'Anand Ramlogan', if back then he would have supported driving this through without a referendum. I appeal to the sense of common sense, fairness and justice that existed in the real Anand Ramlogan. Is there any of him left – or is he hiding somewhere?