Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj said he was ready to stand up against issues affecting the rights of the people, including the Section 34 fiasco and an attack on members of media by the People's Partnership government.
Maharaj, speaking at a meeting with CLICO policyholders at City Hall, San Fernando, yesterday said his conscience was disturbing him and it was time he spoke out on some events taking place in the country in recent months.
"I have always, as a lawyer, taken the position that my duty is not confined to the courtroom. I have a duty to the public to talk on issues which affect the rights of the people," he said.
Maharaj said he was perplexed by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan's role in the Section 34 issue, as the Attorney General is responsible for a law which has to be passed and proclaimed.
"An Attorney General cannot say I do not know civil law so I do not know what happened or I do not know criminal law so I do not know what happened. You may have a Minister of Justice or a Minister of Legal Affairs but the Attorney General, under Section 76 of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, takes full responsibility for legal affairs. Whatever happened in the Parliament with Section 34 the AG is fully, in law, responsible for what has happened. And it seems inconsistent that the Minister of Justice (Herbert Volney) could lose his job for that, but the AG still has his job," he said.
The proclamation of Section 34, on August 30 by President George Maxwell Richards, paved the way for persons to apply to a judge to have their matters dismissed, if they were charged with an offence committed more than ten years before and not prosecuted. Parliament has since voted to repeal the Act.
Maharaj said he was also disturbed that the media was being violated and attacked by the Government.
"Governance under the Partnership Government is eating away the soul of our nation. We have to stand up and protect our democracy, it is under threat," he said.
Maharaj said there was no one in the Cabinet brave enough to stand up against corruption. "There is nobody in the Cabinet...no (Winston) Dookeran, no (Prakash) Ramadhar... nobody who profess to have all the passion for protecting the rights of the people have the guts to stand up and stand up for you in the Cabinet. They are prepared to hold on to their office as ministers and keep that office but they will not stand up for you, no matter what corruption is happening in Trinidad and Tobago, no matter what breach of the Constitution, or concerns with Section 34, none of them will stand up and say we cannot allow this to happen. The only person who had the guts to stand up was (David) Abdulah," he said.
Maharaj said although he does not intend to return to electoral politics, he was not going to sit back and allow citizens to be violated.