Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Dookeran: Dana had so much more to give

Be reassured of the strength of the country’s institutions, including the judiciary, which have served us well in times of crisis.

So said Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, at yesterday’s launch of the Diplomatic Academy of the Caribbean, at the University Inn and Conference Centre, University of the West Indies, St Augustine.

“This is not the first time our nation has had to face extraordinary events. We have done it in the past and we shall do it again,” said Dookeran, referring to Sunday’s murder of senior counsel Dana Seetahal.

“As we mobilise our energies and resources in order to ensure that justice is done and our institutions prevail in their independence and fearless discharge of their duty, while there are indeed areas of weakness in the criminal justice system, we must correct them and do so as quickly as possible,” he added. 

Dookeran said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who could not attend the function due to pressing matters of state, asked him to say a few words on her, and his own, behalf.

He said the Prime Minister was deeply touched by Seetahal’s murder, since both were co-students of the same alumni, UWI.

“The Prime Minister remains committed, focused and at all times in charge of shaping the country’s destiny and in strengthening the country’s institutions in all their manifestations.”

Dookeran said the Prime Minister also wanted the conference to stand for a minute’s silence in tribute to “our former special state prosecutor”. 

He said Seetahal was a truly remarkable daughter, fearless in her advocacy and determined in her efforts to improve the criminal justice system of Trinidad and Tobago.

As a former independent senator, a lecturer at Hugh Wooding Law School, a Fulbright scholar and a leading opinion-maker, her death has abruptly ended a life that had so much more to give, to achieve and to aspire.

“It is a sad moment,” said Dookeran.

He said it was a moment in which the country needed to be reassured by the strength of its institutions to provide good governance, as well as to be assured of the independence and robustness of its judiciary.

“Be reassured of the strength of those institutions that have served us well and that are resilient in times of crisis,” he added. 

There was also a video message from Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, who said the establishment of the Diplomatic Academy “would enhance the understanding and practice of contemporary diplomacy with a distinctive Caribbean perspective”.