T&T judiciary warns that contempt will not be tolerated

(Trinidad Express) The Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago yesterday warned that it will not tolerate “contempt”, following remarks by National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, Gary Griffith, that “every country in the world ….will have corrupt persons in the Judiciary”.

In a press release, the Judiciary noted that Griffith made the statement during an interview with the United Kingdom’s Channel Four television last Friday, which featured Trinidad and Tobago’s State of Emergency on episode 18 of its Unreported World series.

Griffith was asked by Channel Four reporter Seyi Rhodes: “It’s probably no surprise to you to hear that every person I speak to in Trinidad, when I ask them where the drugs and the guns come from, they tell me that the ports, the customs authorities, the coast guard and the police are a hundred per cent involved in the trafficking of drugs and guns. Why are you not focussing on that?”

Griffith replied: “Every country in the world will have corrupt police officers, will have corrupt persons in the Judiciary, will have corrupt politicians. That is not an avenue to call a State of Emergency. We needed a State of Emergency to stop law abiding citizens of this country from being killed.”

The Channel Four feature was compiled by Rhodes, along with director Will West, during the period of the 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew.

On Saturday, a story about the televised episode, including Griffith’s comments, which is also available for viewing on various Internet sites, was carried in the Express.

The Judiciary said yesterday that anyone can reasonably conclude, from Griffith’s statements and “generalisations”, that he believes the Judiciary to be among the establishments that are corrupt and tied in with the importation of guns and drugs into the country, with his statements being made in the context of the need to declare a state of emergency.

It further stated: “The Judiciary is forced to question, therefore, whether, as National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, Mr Griffith is in possession of any evidence on persons in the Judiciary which enables him to so confidently and poignantly link them with the importation of drugs and guns in the country in the current scenario of a State of Emergency in Trinidad and Tobago.

“If not, then the Judiciary also challenges Mr Griffith to justify his statement to the national community relative to any ‘person in the Judiciary’ being implicated in the gun and drug importation business in the history of the Judiciary of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Yesterday’s statement from the Judiciary, made through Court Protocol and Information Manager, Jones P Madeira, was that body’s second this month in response to statements from public officials.

On November 8, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, during a press conference at his Port of Spain office, was asked if he considered Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh’s decision to quash the extradition order of businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson to be a defeat for Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

Rowley responded, “I wouldn’t term it a defeat for the Attorney General … if there is any defeat it is for justice in Trinidad and Tobago.”

On November 11, the Judiciary condemned Rowley’s comments, and stated, “One can only conclude that the contents, including the direct assertions, are accurate, and it is in this context that the Judiciary expresses its abhorrence of the innuendoes by the Leader of the Opposition of collusion between the judge and by extension, the Judiciary, and the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago in the decision which was arrived at and handed down in the court.”

The Judiciary said the imputations of motive and even wrongdoing on the part of the judge in Rowley’s statements were not only outside the bounds of respect and objectivity that should attend the exercise of those rights, but also represented an “unwarranted and unjustified attack on the judge and are additionally potentially injurious to the administration of justice in Trinidad and Tobago”.

Rowley was then called on to withdraw the statement and he subsequently apologised.

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