Attorney General Anand Ramlogan is defending a decision to nominate a communications specialist attached to the Office of the Attorney General to be part of a delegation to represent this country at an Inter-American Conference on corruption and the 23rd Meeting of the Committee of Experts in Washington, DC, USA next month.
The Sunday Express has learnt that Sherry Ann Lawrence was previously hired by the Office of the Attorney General to monitor media reporting on a daily basis.
In February she joined the Communications Unit.
Last Tuesday Ramlogan informed Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador to Washington Dr Neil Parsan that he had nominated Lawrence, his communications specialist for the subgroup meeting of the Mechanism for the Follow-up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (MESICIC.)
The conference takes place at the Organisation of American States (OAS) headquarters in Washington from March 17-21.
In October 2012, the lead expert to the conference was legal advisor to the AG, Joan Furlonge.
The team at that conference comprised Samraj Harripaul, chairman of the Law Reform Commission, Lynette Stephenson, Ombudsman and Yvette Hall, legal adviser, Office of the Ombudsman, Kathy-Ann Waterman-Latchoo, deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Anthony Bucchan, Ag Supt Anti-Corruption Investigations and Richard Frederick, director of Investigations, Integrity Commission.
Sources told the Sunday Express that senior staffers at the AG’s office believe Lawrence does not have the requisite experience to be the “lead expert” for this country.
Ramlogan’s nomination of Lawrence followed correspondence from Ambassador Parsan dated February 10, 2014 in which he told the AG that the embassy was informed on March 6 by the Department of Legal Cooperation of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs that Furlonge would not be attending the meeting.
According to Parsan, “The OAS expressed its concern on receiving the information given that Trinidad and Tobago is a member of the subgroup along with Haiti and Guyana,” and advised that since this country is a member of the subgroup it should also attend the 23rd meeting of experts.
Ramlogan said yesterday Lawrence had worked closely with Furlonge as her alternate in the ministry and was well acquainted with the work of MESICIC.
“She is replacing Furlonge on an evaluation team to continue the evaluation review of other countries. She was in fact recommended by the Head of the International Law and Human Rights Unit, Ian Rampersad, and the director of Communications, Cecily Ann Mitchell.”
He said Lawrence is not leading any Government delegation but simply replacing Furlonge on the team.
“I accepted the recommendation of the two heads because I had no reason to question her competence and dedication,” Ramlogan said, adding that it was not necessary that the position be filled by a lawyer.
“I also thought that her qualifications and experience would add a different perspective to the work of the committee.”
Ramlogan said her appointment was accepted by the OAS, with whom his office had been liaising with beforehand.
“I think she is well qualified with a BA in communications studies, international relations and HR management and she is finishing her master’s of science in strategic leadership and management. She has been working with the international human rights department in preparation for this conference and is well trained,” Ramlogan added.