CJ Politics

Trinidad PM Revokes Appointment of Justice Minister

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - September 21, 2012

Above: Trinidad PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has asked Acting President Timothy Hamel Smith to revoke the appointment of Justice Minister Herbert Volney.

The move came after a controversy over the passing of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Act, 2011, which was had been passed by both houses of Parliament.

The measure created a statute of limitations of 10 years for alleged crimes, and would have applied to several high-profile corruption cases in the country, critics charged.

In early August, Minister Volney tabled a note seeking the cabinet’s approval to proclaim the act with effect beginning Jan. 1, 2013.

But in order to do so, consultation with the Chief Justice and Director of Public Prosuections was required. While Persad-Bissessar had initially been informed that he had done so, it was later revealed that no such consultation took place, according to the Prime Minister.

“The Hon Minister of Justice had a duty to faithfully and accurately represent the position and views of the Honorable Chief Justice and the DPP,” the PM said. “He failed to do so, and the cabinet relied and acted on his assurances in good faith. His failure to do so is a serious misrepresentation and amounts to material non-disclosure of relevant facts to the cabinet, which effectively prevented it from making an informed decision.”

She said that cabinet had been given early assurances that the DPP and Chief Justice had agreed to early proclamation of the section.

The bill was eventually repealed in an special sitting of Parliament. Persad-Bissessar said the government “moved swiftly to successfully reverse the ill-effects and unintended consequences of this section.”

“I held a formal and candid meeting with Minister Volney today, who has admitted that he erred,” the Prime Minister said in her statement Thursday.

Christlyn Moore, an attorney of Lambeau Village in Tobago, has been appointed as a Senator and the country’s new Justice Minister.

The move follows the removal of Collin Partap, then-Minister in the Ministry of National Security, following an incident involving a traffic stop in July.

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