PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar today broke her silence on the issues related to the alleged unethical conduct of attorneys and inmates involved in prison-related lawsuits against the State, and in which calls have been made for the Office of the Attorney General to be investigated. The following is Persad-Bissessar's statement -
Subsequent to the submission of a letter from the Solicitor General advising that an investigation be conducted into matters involving lawyers engaged in prison litigation, I immediately addressed the matter with the Honourable Attorney General. My efforts in this regard met with the satisfaction of the then Solicitor General through a subsequent letter in which she states:
"Honorable Prime Minister, your proactive attention to this matter is greatly appreciated as it underscores your recognition of the interests of those engaged in civil litigation on behalf of the State and their clients in the Prison Service. In light of the discussions with the Hon Attorney General, through your intervention, I am now confident that the issues raised in my letter will be adequately addressed and accordingly would no longer seek further investigation through your office.”
As for the objections carried in the media about my own handling of the particular report, given that the former Solicitor General is of the view that the matter had been appropriately handled by me, who else could or should question her professional assessment? In my respectful view, the issue was treated with the urgency and seriousness required and the former Solicitor General's expressed opinion validates my actions in this regard.
Notwithstanding the above, I have noted the current concerns raised by the former Solicitor General in a media release issued earlier this week. I have further noted the recent calls by the Prison Officers Association for the matter to be probed further.
In this context, I have advised the Honourable Attorney General to meet with the Acting Solicitor General, the Commissioner of Prisons, the Inspector of Prisons, the Minister of Justice and the Chief State Solicitor to address the said concerns raised and to determine the best way forward in ensuring all concerns are addressed.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC
Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago
April 30, 2014