SOMEONE in Government has to "pay the piper" over the mess of the early proclamation of Section 34 of the Indictable Proceedings Act, Independent Senator Dr Rolph Balgobin has said.
He said that both former planning minister Mary King and former Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Collin Partap, paid a "high price" and were fired, though in the latter case he was not sure what was the reason as Partap had not failed a breathalyser test. He noted that someone had to pay for early proclamation of Section 34 which had sparked much public contention and caused Parliament to be reconvened to have it repealed.
He also noted that the press release by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard, in which he reported that he had not been consulted about the controversial section, raised very serious concerns and someone in Government had to be held to account if his claims are true.
Balgobin was contributing to the debate in the Senate on Thursday night on the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) (Amendment) Bill, 2012 during an emergency session of Parliament held at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.
Fellow Independent Senator Dr James Armstrong said he had taken Minister of Justice Herbert Volney "at his word" about the promised areas being implemented before the Indictable Proceedings bill became law and felt "saddened" about the early proclamation of Section 34.
"Maybe I am naive (but) I think I can trust everyone in (Parliament) and they can trust me," he said.
He added that the Parliament had been put in a "very embarrassing position" and there were no consequences for anyone.
He said the fact that Section 34 was proclaimed on the 50th anniversary of this country's Independence was "a joke" and "a reflection of what we about".
"I am extremely disappointed Mr AG, with what has happened," he said.
Independent Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan said because of the Government's error of the early proclamation, for which an apology should be made, the noble efforts of the Parliament would "fall by the wayside" and those involved in thousands of cases in backlog would have to "go back to the grind" of the local legal system.
Opposition Senator Shamfa Cudjoe noted that former coalition member, the Movement for Social Justice, and current coalition member the Congress of the People, have both critcised the early proclamation and questioned what was the view of the Tobago Organisation of the People.
She said the current mess of the early proclamation, and the belief by some that it was to aid businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, was a poor example to young people including those in Laventille.