Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday invited all churches, unions and the people of Trinidad and Tobago to march with him tomorrow at 1 p.m. from the Red House to President's House against the Government's actions with respect to Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act.
Rowley said all people, regardless of political affiliation, can come out and march and deliver a petition to the President which will outline the controversy of Section 34 and calls for the removal of the Prime Minister, Attorney General and Justice Minister. He described it as a march against injustice.
"If Trinidad and Tobago ever needed you is now, all those who believe that they can do what they want in this country and that the people are impotent and can be pushed back, I think they have crossed the line!" Rowley said.
"Today I want to call on every right-thinking citizen to push back on this Government of Trinidad and Tobago and come Tuesday at 1 o clock if you believe that this Government need to be responded to, meet me outside the Red House!" Rowley said.
The Diego Martin West MP spoke for just over an hour at his annual constituency conference at the Point Cumana community centre. He explained that the Government betrayed the Parliament and hatched a conspiracy for the benefit of their friends who stand accused before the courts.
He was talking about the President's proclamation of section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act which opened an avenue for persons who stand accused of an indictable offence to apply to a judge to throw out a case if more than ten years have passed since the commission of the alleged office and if the trial has not started.
Both Houses of Parliament met last week to have Section 34 repealed.
Yesterday, Rowley trained his guns on three persons — Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Justice Minister Herbert Volney.
He said the Opposition had raised questions over Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act but supported the legislation because assurances were given that the Act would not be proclaimed in any form or fashion until criminal procedure rules were brought to the Parliament and approved, until the judiciary made all necessary preparations for the implementation of this Act and until courts were constructed.
Government, he said, came to the Parliament and said there was a huge backlog in the courts of over 400,000 cases and the removal of preliminary enquiries will resolve this problem.
"We agreed with that and we had no problem voting for that," said Rowley.
He said regardless of assurances given, Section 34 was "secretly" proclaimed to come into effect on August 31.
"This is a betrayal of the Parliament, this indecency, this outrage where a Government can mislead the Parliament and use the Cabinet to take action to allow criminal to walk free," Rowley said.
He said that during the debate last week on the repeal of Section 34, the Prime Minister, who is leader of the United National Congress (UNC), and Prakash Ramadhar, leader of the Congress of the People (COP), said not a word.
Describing Volney as "injustice Minister" Rowley referred to two matters which Volney presided over as a judge, saying questions were raised with respect to Volney's conduct on the bench.
He went on to say, "For the first time in the history of this country a portfolio was created called Minister of Justice and I am putting it to you today in this country that Volney came into this Government to do exactly what has happened here."
Volney, he said, was "very friendly" with persons who would benefit from the proclamation of Section 34.
He spoke about a newspaper report in which Volney admitted he was in Tobago recently at a retreat with Ministry staff at the Grafton beach resort which is owned by businessman Ishwar Galbaransingh.
Volney had said that he had a conversation with Galbaransingh over an alleged attempted break-in of the hotel.
"So Galbaransingh came to Volney for Volney to ask for help and Volney call Jack Warner to call the police to come to the hotel," said Rowley who had the audience in stitches over the comedy of the explanation.
"On the basis of this attempt to deceive and to fool and to act improperly, today I renew the call for the resignation of Herbert Volney," said Rowley.
Turning to Ramlogan, Rowley said it was his office that was responsible for taking the section to the President for proclamation.
He said it is now clear that there is a conflict of interest as the Attorney General is part of the Cabinet that took the decision to have this section proclaimed.
"Because now we know certainly that there will be legal challenges, multi-million-dollar lawsuits involving ten of millions of dollars in taxpayers money. It is the Attorney General who will choose the lawyers and brief them to argue for the State," said Rowley.
Rowley noted that the "die has been cast and the damage has been done" as Galbaransingh and colleagues Steve Ferguson had already petitioned the court seeking their freedom from charges against them under Section 34.
Although Section 34 was repealed, these men, through their attorneys, intend to argue that there was an abuse of process in the State's move to continue to try them.
Rowley said that for any success against the challenges that are to come, a new Attorney General was needed.
He added that the most important person in the Cabinet is the Prime Minister and as "captain of the ship'' she presided over an act to undermine to the good order of the country.
Rowley said that good leadership stems not from gender but from competence and character.
"All those who felt that by electing a woman, any woman, even that woman would have solved this country's problems I am sure by now you understand that it's more than a man and it's more than a woman, character matters," he said. — See Page 4