Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Chairman hints Rampersad must recuse herself

EOC member statement over 'Calcutta' talk...

Chairman of the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) John Le Guerre yesterday hinted that member Indira Rampersad would have to recuse herself when the Commission examines the complaint involving the "Calcutta ship coming" statement.

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) member Hilton Sandy had stated at a public meeting leading up to the THA election that a ship from Calcutta was waiting to sail to Tobago and it would come if Tobagonians did not vote for the People's National Movement (PNM).

Le Guerre was asked whether he had concerns about the comments made by Rampersad in the light of the call by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley on President George Maxwell Richards to fire Rampersad.

His response was that given his position as chairman he ought not to be commenting on ongoing social and political issues.

Asked whether Rampersad would be asked to recuse herself when the Commission addresses the complaint made by Barrington Skippy on Sandy's statement, Le Guerre said: "Of course this is very normal if there is any element of bias on the part of any Commissioner, for whatever reason, that person normally recuses himself or herself. That is very normal procedure".

Asked whether that would happen in this particular case, he said: "Exactly! If it so applies."

In a letter to the President on Wednesday, Rowley said Rampersad was "patently unfit" to be an EOC Commissioner. Rowley referred to statements made by Rampersad on television which were repeated in the newspapers stating that the "Calcutta ship" statement of Sandy was not an error but part of a deliberate, carefully thought out strategy of the PNM.

Rowley said this statement demonstrated that Rampersad was incapable of impartiality in the discharge of her functions as EOC Commissioner and that she was in "noticeable breach of her oath".

Attempts to reach Rampersad yesterday were unsuccessful.