Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC intends filing legal action against the Government Ministers, soldiers and police officers involved in yesterday's demolition of the Highway Re-Route Movement's protest camp in Debe, and detention of the group's leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh.
Maharaj, a one-time ally of National Security Minister Jack Warner, visited the protest site at around noon yesterday, condemning the actions of the State.
He said a team of lawyers had been assembled, and a separate legal action would be filed to stop the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the highway to Point Fortin.
The Highway Re-Route Movement had for months protested this segment of the highway, claiming it would destroy their community and the wetlands. The group suggested an alternative route, and were hoping for a meeting with newly- appointed Works Minister Emmanuel George.
However, yesterday Warner and Minister in the National Security Ministry Collin Partap supervised the demolition of the camp and nearby prayer room, constructed by the protesters. The ministers were there when Kublalsingh was taken away in handcuffs.
Maharaj told group members, "This has serious repercussions for the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago and the rule of law. I do not intend to allow you to suffer from this. As a matter of fact, we are going to take action against both the individual ministers, the individual police officers if we get their names and take action against the Government of Trinidad and Tobago."
Maharaj said while the State has a right to reclaim lands, there are procedures that need to be followed.
He said no government minister has the power under the Constitution and laws of Trinidad and Tobago to give directives to the police and army.
He said the police have to take instructions from the Commissioner of Police and the Commander of the Defence Force is responsible for the army.
Maharaj said, "Every police officer or army officer who took instructions from the minister can on investigation by the Director of Public Prosecution be prosecuted for criminal conduct of misconduct in public officer. The minister can be a subject of a criminal investigation. Under the laws of Trinidad and Tobago a minister does not interfere in individual cases to give instructions to the police to prosecute, to search or to break down anybody's house."
Maharaj said he expected Minister Warner to go to crime hotspots but instead, Warner "desecrated the poor people of Debe who are farmers, who are legitimately fighting for their rights and he (Warner) went to their temple, into their place of worship, he took their things and put it on the road. He encouraged the police and army to start demolition. Jack and (Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar) rode the backs of these people to get into office and now they kicking them, and all the people of Trinidad and Tobago."
Maharaj said, "By Warner removing their murtis and other things which they used for their worship, he has violated their right to the religious observance of their choice."
He reminded that during its tenure in Opposition, the UNC fought to stopped several projects including the Alutrint aluminium smelter and Rapid Rail mega projects.