AG's actions commendable
As the debate rages on over the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act, I have decided to go back to the starting point. As a people, we sometimes need to remember where we were before, look at where we are now, and consider how we prepare for the future. The People's National Movement (PNM) government walked the corridors of power for over eight years, during which time crime spiralled out of control. The People's Partnership promised to pass several pieces of legislation as part of a crime-fighting plan and it has been doing so over the last two years.
During the PNM era, we saw corruption at its highest. When a certain public official was found in breach of public procurement essentials and tendering procedures, he was elevated. When more public outcry followed, he was made to sit on more boards. Arrogance was the order of the day. On the other hand, the present Government has shown time and time again it is willing to listen to the people. Our Attorney General has, from time to time, directly entered the public domain to listen to the people. The Dangerous Dogs Bill is an example.
The facts surrounding the passage of this particular Act in the Parliament are not in dispute and the most salient fact is that the Opposition PNM supported it wholly. So how can Keith Rowley now allege, among other things, there is something sinister about its proclamation? Talk about brass face!
The Attorney General, on the other hand, has listened to the divergent legal views and, as a consequence, decided to debate Section 34 of the Act again. This is the type of leadership which we need. It is not a matter of remedying a blunder. The common law is always changing. Does that mean when it changes the court which held a previous view was acting in a sinister fashion, or even that its earlier ruling was a blunder? Of course not. Similarly, statutes are always amended and repealed. Does this mean the earlier Act was a blunder? Again, the answer is no!
In most instances statutes are changed because, with the passage of time, there comes a change in circumstances, rendering the operation of the particular statute absurd, unjust or obsolete. Further, many countries have repealed pieces of legislation after the courts have interpreted them in a particular way. In this instant situation, the Attorney General is being proactive, and saying that before a court rules in a manner which is inconsistent with what the Government intended for the administration of justice, it is better to debate the provision again and set the records straight.
What is wrong with this approach? The debate in the Parliament is the highest forum of discussion. In the circumstances, I ask how has the Government blundered? On what grounds can we say the Government is protecting Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson?
I think the population ought to commend the Government for its approach. I don't see why on this occasion people, especially the Opposition PNM, are behaving as if the world is coming to end. Mr Rowley and others have been grasping at straws and, to date, are unable to point to something which would even remotely suggest the Attorney General and the Justice Minister should resign.