The GAWU’s attention was drawn to a section of a statement issued by the Alliance for Change (AFC) following its recently held National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting. In that statement, the AFC said that its Chairman – Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan – informed that he was victorious in a libel case involving our Union. The statement, goes on to say, that Minister Ramjattan said that the judgment vindicated “…the position that indeed large sums of monies in membership dues were being received by GAWU and that significant portions of these monies were channelled elsewhere”.
The case in question dates back to 2008, when the now Minister of Public Security on a programme, which was broadcast on DTV Channel 8, said that the GAWU was giving monies to the PPP. Our Union, at that time, denied outright the spurious claims and our Attorney-at-Law had sought out Minister Ramjattan and DTV Channel 8 to retract the statement and apologise. They both refused and the Union subsequently took the matter to the High Court.
On April 19, 2018, Justice Nareshwar Harnanan delivered his ruling which is poles apart from what appeared in the AFC’s statement. The Judge, in his ruling, said, among other things, that Minister Ramjattan could not present into evidence “…any truth to the words that the plaintiff union [GAWU] made a percentage contribution to the PPP”. The ruling goes on that “[t]his Court is prepared to hold that there was no evidence before the Court which suggested that the plaintiff union makes any financial contribution or donation or otherwise to the PPP”. This stands in complete contrast to the AFC statement.
But, further to that Justice Harnanan went on to say “[t]he statements uttered by the 1st defendant [Minister Ramjattan] were irresponsible, indifferent and without any foundational bases, and being a member of the legal profession ought to have heightened his concern for making public statements which are capable of bring verified or corroborated.” This is noteworthy, in our view.
While indeed that the Courts did not find favour with the GAWU’s demand for damages, and we are contemplating our next move with our Attorney-at-Law, the Judgment says a mouthful. It also is vastly different from what the AFC statement claimed and rather serves to vindicate the GAWU. At this time, we cannot help but wonder whether Minister Ramjattan was misinformed, whether he knowingly hoodwinked his Party, or whether the AFC is engaged in publishing untruths. Whatever may be the case, and more so the motivations, the GAWU hopes that this brings clarity to the misleading innuendoes of the AFC.