Friday 12th May, 2006

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Probe into row must be public

Further to what our editorial said yesterday and in the context of the statement issued Wednesday evening by Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma and the announcement yesterday by Prime Minister Manning that he has referred the matter to the President, it has become even more imperative for a public enquiry, taking the appropriate form, into this whole sordid mess.

The only concern with the route designated by the Constitution is that it could end up in another long, drawn-out, behind-closed-doors legal process similar to the already existing matter between the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice.

We think this, the second matter of the same nature, needs to be thoroughly and expeditiously investigated and decisions arrived at because the entire system of justice hangs on the return of confidence to the national community in the decisions of the judiciary.

As we did yesterday, the Guardian is not about to take a position on the truth or untruth of either of the statements released so far and those to come. It is bewildering how diametrically opposed are the statements one to the other.

Hence the need for a full public airing of the matters, other people coming forward to substantiate and/or deny what has been said by the principal actors in this drama that has deep implications for this society.

We return to the subject too to point out to all of the actors involved and those on the sides thinking of getting involved the deep implications all of this can have on this society.

A public looking on cannot but wonder about the machinations that take place beneath “respectable and lawful society” because at least one of the stories advanced so far must be a complete or near total fabrication and falsification of the reality.

What is the average man to think in the circumstances where it is clear that one of these or perhaps a few of these significant institutions and institution leaders have been working assiduously behind the scenes to subvert the course of justice?

How can that ordinary man go before the courts on Monday morning and face a judge or a magistrate and feel that he will get justice? Indeed, one senior judge this week was asking jurors to pray for the judiciary, suggesting by so doing that something is desperately wrong not merely in the system but amongst his colleagues.

We have returned to the subject also to underscore the point that the system of law exists and holds currency amongst the people of a country on the basis of mutual respect and a social consensus. When those intangibles fail, as they could if there is not a comprehensive, transparent and believable investigation into this matter, then “all fall down.”

History indicates when such occurrences take place, social society is thrown into complete chaos.

So, therefore, while the Law Association may have had a point about pursuing the truth in the quiet of some law chambers, the fact that the story is on the street means that it can now be only resolved in front a watching public. No mediation, no quiet settlement in-camera. The truth must be arrived at in a manner which can give confidence to the public.

As the Creole saying goes: “Those who have cocoa in the sun have to look for rain.”

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