Monday, January 22, 2018

Speak, M’Lud

Chief Justice Ivor Archie has rightly condemned the murder of Sasha Fierce whose bullet-ridden body was found at Nelson Mandela Park in St Clair a week ago.

The possibility that Sasha Fierce, legally known as Keon Allister Patterson but who identified herself as a transgender woman, may have been a victim of gender-based violence is scary and likely to sow panic, especially among the LGBTQI community, their families and other loved ones and should worry all of us.

It is way past the time for Trinidad and Tobago to eradicate the outdated homophobic legislation which besmirch our law books, shame our sense of common humanity and fuel the culture of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

We therefore welcome the Chief Justice’s firm, uncompromising position on the need to protect the rights of all, in his address at the launch of Human Rights Development Trinidad and Tobago at the Hall of Justice on Saturday.

That being said, this newspaper is disappointed that Mr Archie refuses to express a similar forthrightness in response to the several burning issues involving him and which have been brought to the public’s attention in a series of investigative reports published exclusively in the Sunday Express.

This investigation has turned up two convicted fraudsters with links of a dubious nature to Mr Archie.
In one case, a man who has pleaded guilty to conning his victims out of thousands of dollars in cash, identified the CJ as his point person for getting preferential treatment in securing State housing for them.

While convicted fraudsters suffer a credibility deficit, the Sunday Express has turned up enough substantive information that warrants explanation and response by the Chief Justice.

The cascade of information regarding questionable actions by the CJ is now overwhelming, beginning with communication between him and the convicted private security salesman, Dillian Johnson, regarding private security for judges, and expanding into the housing racket by Kern Romero.

For a public official who carries the mantle of the nation’s chief judicial officer, these are no ordinary allegations and must not be allowed to go unanswered. The imperative of unimpeachable character and the perception of unimpeachable character are indispensable to the public trust in those who hold the office of Chief Justice.

Until Mr Archie addresses the issues arising out of his reported relationships with Johnson and, now, Romero, the office he holds risks being seriously compromised.

As in the case of the sexual harassment matter involving Rolph Balgobin, chairman of Angostura Holdings Ltd, we do not rule out the possibility that those with the power to push the CJ to account are consumed by agendas more important to them than the public interest.

For this newspaper, however, there is no higher interest to be served than the public interest. The only protection that should be afforded to those who serve the public is the protection of truth. In that vein, we once again call on Chief Justice Ivor Archie to address the escalating issues that now overwhelm his stewardship.