It is with a deep sense of loss that I received the news this morning of the death of the indefatigable Arthur NR Robinson T.C., S.C., O.C.C., former President and Prime Minister of our young Republic.
After receiving the sad news of the departure of this great Trinbagonian and globally revered statesman, I took the opportunity to visit the hospital where, in the room where he lay, I prayed together with his daughter Ann Margaret, his Grand-daughter Anushka and others for the repose of his soul.
His Excellency Arthur N.R. Robinson was not only a distinguished lawyer, former Prime Minister and Head of State, but was an unwavering patriot who believed that the people of Trinidad and Tobago possess the innate talents and skills to make this country a model nation. He observed and was part of the march from colonialism to self-government, to independence and then republicanism.
Despite whatever difficulties we are experiencing as a nation, His Excellency Mr. Robinson never lost faith in our ability to overcome any obstacle which threatened our democracy and our respect for the rule of law. As a nation, we recall his personal sacrifice in preventing Trinidad and Tobago’s democracy and way of life from being destroyed, when he stood up to terrorists, and declared with stout defiance : “attack with full force”.
This patriot was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, so that we all, citizens of this fair land, from politician to priest could live to see a better tomorrow.
At a personal level, I have witnessed the conviction and contribution of this colossus on the international plane when he took the political initiative to call upon the international community to establish a permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) to bring to justice those accused of committing atrocities such as, genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, the crime of aggression, and international drug trafficking, which has not been included as a crime under the jurisdiction of ICC to date.
It is within my personal knowledge that he continued to press for drug trafficking to be under the jurisdiction of the ICC because of the scourge it continues to inflict on all nations.
President Robinson was courageous. He defied the skeptics who scoffed at his dream of seeing the establishment of the ICC. Judge Sang-Hyun Song, President of the ICC, described His Excellency as the ‘grandfather of the ICC’, a title which pays homage to his vision for an international solution to arrest universal impunity. He was a trailblazer who showed that small states can, and have made a difference to global affairs, if leaders have visions beyond the narrow confines of winning elections.
He was a champion of the sovereign right of people to have their legislators make laws for the good of the entire citizenry, and not merely for special interests groups, be they political or economic. This passion was also brought to the fore when he served as President of that influential global NGO, Parliamentarians for Global Action.
I am honoured to have worked with His Excellency Mr. Robinson whose counsel and influence made me a better prosecutor and judge.
On behalf of my family and the entire nation, I wish to convey my deepest condolences to the family of His Excellency Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson T.C., S.C., O.C.C. Our thoughts are with his children Ann Margaret and David, his grand-daughter Anushka, the other members of his family, and close friends during this very difficult time.