Law can’t prevent evil in the bedroom, says Rowley
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday while the preparations for the proclamation of the Children’s Authority seemed to be “dragging on and should not be”, he was not of the view the law would have been able to save Keyana Cumberbatch.
Speaking at a news conference at his Port of Spain office, Rowley asked: “What is the role of the law on your bed?”
“It is difficult to see what law you would have invoked to prevent that if the evil came through the door and into the bedroom,” he said.
Rowley said this was why Government was being called upon to give assistance in areas where the “humanity” involved in protecting the nation’s children can be nurtured.
He said this was why the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) housing programme was valuable for quality of life. He said the physical conditions under which people live can ameliorate the circumstances and opportunities for bad things to happen.
Stressing he was not saying this was the case in the Keyana matter, he said there had to be a role for “seeing something which looks odd and being able to report and somebody takes you seriously, or a neighbour hearing a child crying”.
Rowley also spoke of the issue of high costs of legal fees being paid by the Office of the Attorney General to select lawyers.
Rowley said there has been a steady increase in the funding to the Attorney General for fees. He said the Opposition has stated if there has to be an investigation into corruption, it is better handled with the Integrity Commission.
“Instead of doing that, they (the Government) gave the hundreds of millions of dollars to the Attorney General,” he said.
“Now, we have an Integrity Commission with a budget of $20 million for its entire staff, they could hire very few officers, but the Attorney General is now reporting, as you saw in the Express on Monday, that a piece of his expenditure of tens of millions of dollars goes to people who were supposedly conducting a variety of all kinds of investigations.
“I have in my possession documents submitted to the Attorney General’s office where favoured lawyers are billing the office $400,000 for reading a letter. One particular lawyer got $100,000 for a Magistrate Court case to evict a tenant in San Juan.
“And while that is happening out of the office of the Attorney General, the Integrity Commission, with the full power of the Integrity in Public Life, has a $23 million budget and a mountain of investigation sitting there,” the Opposition Leader said.
Stating the commission was not sufficiently resourced, Rowley said: “We never anticipated a flood of day-by-day, week-by-week requirements, for the commission to investigate serious infractions involving hundreds of millions of dollars, criminal conduct on the part of Cabinet ministers, that is what it is facing.”
He said he had warned the Minister of Finance from the onset it would be a hell of a thing if it was providing hundreds of millions to the Attorney General, ostensibly, to root out corruption; these monies by themselves become a trough which generate their own corruption.
Commenting on the country’s fall in ranking on the corruption index, Rowley said: “If they knew the whole story, we would be at the bottom of the barrel. This country has become so corrupt in the last three years, that if the assessor knew the full story, they would give us a few more points down the ladder. We have done very well in the absence of that information being known to them.”