Sunday 18th March, 2007

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People of power, true criminals

I, an ordinary citizen of Trinidad & Tobago, would like someone to explain what “independence of the judiciary” means. To me, some members of the judiciary themselves misuse the expression and continue to confuse the public with a tirade of foolish utterances.

The main function of the judiciary in terms of its interface with the public is to adjudicate in legal matters. Its role is to interpret the laws and use this interpretation to determine guilt or innocence; right or wrong. It is entrusted with the responsibility to be fair. It has to acquire an acceptable level of understanding of the law, and the system in which it is applied.

Also, these people have to be trained to acquire and develop a certain level of competence and acumen, which will determine how successful they are in carrying out their function. It is also requisite that they be men/women of integrity. This goes towards determining how respected they become, this being important for the acceptance of their decisions and conclusions, in legal matters. They can be helped by “precedence.”

Independence of the judiciary has to do with the functioning and decision-making aspects with regard to the laws of the land; with regard to cases before it; with regard to interpretation of the laws; with regard to court awards, penal decisions and the like; in other words, the work of the judicial system.

I propose that financing of the judicial system, for example, has nothing to do with the independence of the judiciary.

How, then, can the Prime Minister be accused of interfering in the judiciary, because he seeks to initiate proceedings against the Chief Justice, who is accused of trying to pervert the course of justice. What the PM did has nothing to do with the decisions of the court.

Suggesting that the CJ resign or face judicial censure is not interfering with the independence of the judiciary.

It is a tragedy that some lawyers hold on to that view, or are they trying to hoodwink the public! Writing a letter to the Director Public Prosecutions or Attorney General seeking information or clarification on a legal matter is not interfering with the independence of the judiciary.

Every citizen has the right to do so. Or, are the holders of that view indicating that our judicial personnel are so stupid that they are negatively influenced by anything they read or hear, and are incapable of making informed, independent, fair decisions based on evidence presented. If that is so, they should not be lawyers, judges, etc.

Telling a judge or magistrate what his/her decision in a court matter should be IS interfering with the independence of the judiciary.

Who, among the CJ, the DPP, the AG, the Chief Magistrate and the PM did that?

I am becoming more and more convinced that it isn’t the thieves, kidnappers, drug lords, and other criminals of that nature that we in T&T should be most afraid of. Primarily, they are not the ones who are leading the country down the path of destruction.

The people doing that are in the top echelons of the society—judges, lawyers, politicians, etc.

T&T has to wake up to that reality.

Fitzgerald Griffith

Diego Martin

No excuse for $6 doubles

In a recent television interview, Mr Anand Daniel, CEO of the Trinidad and Tobago LOC, repeatedly defended the ridiculously high prices of the food and beverage items at the warm-up games.

His claim is that prices are expected to be at such a level at the third biggest sporting event in the world.

I think that there are a few things that Mr Daniel needs to bear in mind:

a) Warm-up games, though part of the build-up to the actual event, are not in themselves part of the World Cup competition.

b) There is no doctrine in economics that says that a 700 to 800 per cent mark-up (eg $6 for a doubles) on food and drink is warranted purely because of the magnitude of the event. This is normally dealt with in the price of admission.

c) Almost all of the food and drink on sale are produced here in Trinidad and Tobago, with relatively low costs of supply and delivery.

d) While one does expect that vendors will have had to pay more than usual for selling concessions, the limitations placed on the spectators on bringing food and drink to the ground would have greatly widened the vendors’ scope for sales and profits. Concession costs can be easily covered.

It would be good if in the early stages of the local games, the spectators can see a way to boycott the vendors’ booth to the extent that the prices will be reduced, and more of a win-win situation would exist.

Dave Beharry

via e-mail

People living by Public Service time

Permit me to write an open letter to Ms Angela Lee Loy, Dr Amery Browne of the National Aids Co-ordinating Committee, Minister of Health John Rahael and Joe and Joan Public.

Inspired by the great advertisement and promotional campaign put on by the National Aids Co-ordinating Committee letting citizens know where they can access free testing, I decided to have an HIV test done at my nearest STI Clinic.

I must commend the NACC for its continued commitment to prevention, testing and awareness in Trinidad and Tobago. Great job.

However, it cannot stop at just advertising. It has to extend to customer service.

I went to the STI Clinic in Princes Town, and went ahead of 3pm, which was the advertised end time for testing. I got there at 2.20pm and was directed to speak to a particular nurse. Though not openly hostile, the nurse was quite aloof and informed me that they were done for the day.

Since it was not yet 3pm, I thought we had more than enough time for the test itself and the requisite counselling that they have been mandated to provide.

She sourly informed me, while fixing her lip-gloss that they had finished for the day and no, they did not work until 3pm.

Please permit me to say that if your staff members are insistent on leaving well before the advertised end time, then you should let the public know so that we do not waste our time.

It is often a difficult decision for people to go and ask for an HIV test in a society such as ours where HIV/Aids is still heavily stigmatised.

I would hate to think that someone who may be turned away because of a “busy” nurse or doctor, may never build up that courage a second time to come get tested.

I am quite used to this Third World public service behaviour, but I must admit I was quite disappointed to realise that even in the important business of HIV management, we have become so laid back and delinquent.

I trust that you would advertise the correct times (that is, the times when we, the public are not keeping your nurses from their busy private lives and activities) so that we may feel free to go again, without fear of being turned away.

Or you can ensure that the clinics stay open up to the advertised times, so that we can safeguard our personal health and the health of our nation.

Thalia Gouveia

via e-mail

Give family life attention, now

Last December, no less a person than President George Maxwell Richards spoke publicly about the importance and necessity of the family. Now, three months later a Government minister, Christine Sahadeo, is quoted as saying that “Family life is at risk” and that the recent upsurge in crime is perhaps the result of erosion of family values.

Traditional family values and family life are not things that can be produced overnight or at short order. They have to be cultivated over a period of time and may even require generations. But a start has to be made, and the time to do that is now.

All groups and people concerned about this question must come together to devise practical ways and means of tackling the problem.

Fr Arthur Lai-Fook, CSSp

St Mary’s College

Indo-Trinis excluded too

I listened with keen interest to commentary on one of the local radios after the opening ceremony in Jamaica of the ICC World Cup Cricket tournament. The callers were most displeased and hurt about the exclusion of Afro-Trinidadian culture displayed during the ceremony.

They complained about the lack of respect when Boogsie was playing the pan and reggae music could be heard in the background. It seemed that our Afro-Trinidadian culture was not really presented to the world and the world would think that the West Indies was Jamaica. You would never imagine that there are Indo-Trinidadians living in the West Indies and are sometimes selected on the West Indies team.

The same can be said when the Government hosts international shows here, you would not have a clue that half of this country is Indo-Trinidadian, with a rich cultural background. We are excluded in every aspect. It even extends to the composition of the staff members that are posted at foreign embassies.

I guess now our Afro-Trinidadian brothers now know how it feels to be excluded in your own home.

Ashley Gopaul

via e-mail

Damned either way

Is there any solution to crime? Bandits contemplate methods of terminating your life for personal gain throughout your years succeeding birth.

Politicians and figure-heads of influence such as dismissed UNC Senator Harry Mungalsingh contemplate methods of terminating your life before you even get an opportunity to be born.

B Joseph

via e-mail

Love cricket, love children

We love cricket; look how quick we did it.

If we love the cricketers of tomorrow, implement the children’s authority act now!

Verna St Rose Greaves

“I From Covigne”

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