Friday, February 23, 2018

Rowley questions lack of advanced notice

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday expressed shock at the news of the resignation of Justice Sebastian Ventour from the Integrity Commission.

“Why weren’t we told about this before? Whatever the circumstances, the public should have been kept informed along the way. If this kind of thing is supposed to happen, it should happen with openness, advanced notice and clarity,” he said.

Rowley said it was surprising he had to learn about this in this way—through the media.

“No statement or explanation,” he said.

Rowley said if it was known there were outstanding judgments when Ventour was appointed, the public should have been informed and if it was discovered after, the public should have been told “instead of having to find out in this way”.

“Why aren’t these things being done in the open and the population kept in the loop?” he asked.

“It is a simple matter of keeping the public informed in public business in which we all have an interest.”

Rowley noted that under the Integrity in Public Life Act, the Integrity Commission is not properly constituted without an attorney-at-law.

“One of the members has to be a lawyer. If he is removed, the Commission cannot function. That is a legal requirement of the law,” he said.

The Express asked attorney Dana Seetahal, who confirmed that once the Act stated the Commission “shall” consist of an attorney, then the Commission is not properly constituted if there is no attorney in its membership.

The Act states: At least one member of the Commission shall be an attorney-at-law of at least ten years’ experience.

The other members of the Integrity Commission are Ken Gordon, opthalmologist Shelly Anne Lalchan, engineer Deonarine Jaggernauth and chartered accountant Sienarine Jokhoo.

The Commission therefore cannot form a quorum and cannot meet to do business until an attorney is appointed.

This is the second Commission that Ventour has resigned from. He resigned from the Constitution Commission shortly after he was appointed to the Integrity Commission.