pardon the title if it offends you but it reflects the
current state of national affairs. That the judiciary
is once again embroiled in turmoil because of alleged
impropriety on the part of those who should know better
is a matter of great public concern.
So distressed are people who appreciate the gravity of
the situation that one judge sitting in the criminal assize
called on jurors to pray for those who hold public office,
especially members of the judiciary.
The daily newspapers are filled with articles informing
citizens about the history of events in the present scandal,
forcing us to come to grips with the harsh reality that
all is not well in our country.
The Prime Minister has cancelled an important trip because
he found it inappropriate to leave the country in a time
of crisis. If that be the case, then Mr Manning ought
to forget about foreign travel for a long time to come
since this country is in a total mess with his administration
being partly, if not wholly, to blame.
Getting a headache
Even writing about the situation causes a headache of
migraine proportions. People are being advised not to
comment on the matter but to adopt a code of silence.
This would be tantamount to giving consent to a whittling
away of our democracy by this regime.
The press release from the office of the Attorney General
on the alleged plot to smear the Chief Magistrate has
had the effect of raising fears rather than quelling suspicion.
The suggestion that there should be restraint on the part
of the media because investigations are still at an early
stage can be viewed as an attempt to unfairly muzzle the
Why should the media be prevented from reporting frankly
on a matter of urgent, public importance? Had it not been
for their publications, we would not have been aware of
the live threat to our democracy.
It is the wheeling and dealing behind closed doors that
have enabled this administration to compromise our democracy
and surreptitiously seek to replace it with a dictatorship.
Now everything has been blown wide open and those who
are exposed must be prepared to face the consequences.
The plot thickens
If the allegation by the Chief Justice is truethat
there is a political conspiracy to oust him from officethen
the conspirators, inciters, aiders and abettors ought
to resign with immediate effect.
This country can ill-afford to have high office holders
plotting and planning the demise of one who occupies the
third highest position in the land.
It is not simply the rank held that makes the situation
intolerable but the fact that the Chief Justice of a country
has the very important role of ensuring the efficient
and effective administration of justice. It is his primary
function to ensure that the streams of justice remain
The fact that the Chief Justice had no alternative but
to partly fight this battle in the public domain where
the terrain is as open as it hostile, means that it is
an all-out war.
The Chief Justice has stated that the rule of law
is under threat and our democratic system is in crisis.
In this situation, the population is entitled to nothing
less than full transparency.
And Justice Sharma is right. Without prejudging the issue,
it is incumbent on the national community to stand firm
and resolute in defence of our democracy. We should not
rely on the fear of victimisation as the excuse for our
inaction. We have to demand that the truth be told and
after the battle for justice is fought, only truth must
be left standing. Half-truths, lies and innuendos must
be permanently laid to rest.
The casualties may be many but in the end justice must
For too long we have allowed serious unresolved matters
to be swept under the carpet. For example, to date we
do not know the whereabouts of the papers in the Biche
High School inquiry that went missing, or who gave the
instruction to the police prosecutor in the Tobago Magistrates
Court to offer no evidence against the Bajan fishermen.
It was issues such as these that should have sent the
warning signals that wrongful executive interference was
being tried and tested in our still waters of democracy.
Unfortunately, the matters were allowed to pass without
the facts being disclosed.
Once it was shown that there was little or no public pressure
for truth or accountability, the perpetrators realised
that their acts of indiscretion could get more atrocious,
and they have.
Now it is a free-for-all with this regime sending the
message that appropriate channels can be by-passed in
favour of laying complaints and even false accusations
at the feet of high-profile executive members.
Since when does the Executive direct that a person should
either resign or face prosecution on a criminal charge?
If there has been the commission of a criminal offence,
is it not a perversion of the course of justice to dictate
such an ultimatum?
Perhaps those advising the Prime Minister ought to take
a quick refresher course in the basic concepts of the
rule of law and due process. What is clear is that if
the accusations made by the Chief Justice are true, then
some heads will have to roll.
No longer sacred
The firmest pillar of good governance is the proper administration
of justice. When justice is perceived to be compromised
then all hell breaks loose and strict adherence to law
and order is impossible. How comfortable will litigants
feel going before the courts knowing that this supposed
to be sacred institution is susceptible to acts
How is this alleged shameless display of inappropriate
conduct going to be resolved and are there people brave
and independent enough to ensure that the correct action
Undoubtedly, something has to be done fast to restore
the sanctity of the institutions that are being labelled
as corrupt. We must not stand idly by and allow our democracy
to be destroyed for, in the end, we will all be losers.