Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday that an independent enquiry was in fact already on the way on the contentious issue of prison litigation.
“Master Patricia Sobion has referred the Jamal Sambury matter to the Registrar of the Supreme Court who, in turn, referred the attorneys involved and the case to the Disciplinary Committee of the Law Association. The Disciplinary Committee is the statutory body vested with the powers to investigate and deal with matters of this kind under the Legal Profession Act. The High Court also remains vested with the inherent jurisdiction to protect its process and make such orders to protect same,” he said in a press release.
“It would be improper for the Government as the executive arm of the State to trespass upon the role and function of the Law Association and the High Court as to do so would amount to a usurpation of their legal functions, undermine their authority and breach the separation of powers. Indeed, it would undermine the rule of law,” he said.
Ramlogan was responding to the Prison Officers Association’s (POA) decision not to meet with him and to demand an independent probe.
Ramlogan said the POA was never going to be part of the investigating committee. “I was instructed by the Honourable Prime Minister to convene a committee with the Acting Solicitor General Carol Hernandez, Chief State Solicitor Christophe Grant, the Commissioner of Prisons Mr Conrad Barrow, the Inspector of Prisons Mr Daniel khan and the Minister of Justice Mr Emmanuel George.
“The Prison Officers Association was not in fact a member of the committee formed to investigate, among other things, allegations made by the very association,” the Attorney General stated.
However, Ramlogan had told the Express on Wednesday: “I will comply with the instruction of the Prime Minister to convene a meeting with the Prison Officers Association, the Inspector of Prisons and the other stakeholders as soon as possible.”
Ramlogan said that having regard for the concerns raised by the POA, he did in fact notify its general secretary, Gerard Gordon, of the meeting to afford them the opportunity to participate in this process and submit their concerns to the committee.
“The Attorney General and the committee can and will however review complaints about the conduct of prison litigation and address any concerns arising out of matters that have been completed and are no longer before the court. This will in fact be discussed at the meeting on Monday at 1.30 p.m,” he said.
Ramlogan said statements which appeared to convey very negative connotations about prison officers were in fact based on the findings and statements made by the High Court in various judgments in which judges condemned their conduct.
Ramlogan said, in the case of Jamal Sambury, he sought a report on this matter from the Solicitor General (Ag) and was advised that it would be inappropriate for anyone to consider this matter or matters arising therefrom while the case is pending before the court.