Monday 1 June, 2020

Young: Judiciary not above commentary

National Security Minister, Stuart Young, says the judiciary is not constitutionally protected from “fair comment”.

He made the statement as the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (WINAD) lent its voice to the ongoing debate between the judiciary, the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT), Police Commissioner Gary Griffith and the Minister himself.

In a statement on Tuesday, WINAD criticized both Young and Griffith for their comments against a specific magistrate and reminded that T&T is a sovereign state with a judiciary not ruled by the Executive.

In response, Young defended himself and denied interfering in the judiciary’s affairs.

“At absolutely no point in time have I ever suggested that the Judiciary is not independent nor have I ever politicized or attempted to politicize the Judiciary, to suggest otherwise is simply mischievous and wholly inaccurate. I am of the opinion that we all have a role to play in the fight against crime and this must include the Judiciary.”

He added that any opinion given on the tribunal is fair.

“The Judiciary is not above commentary and is certainly not constitutionally protected from fair comment. To suggest otherwise is very dangerous and wrong. In any event, I believe that the WINAD statement is misguided and misses the point in an attempt to stifle legitimate and permissible commentary.”

The Minister further sought to clarify his position on the legal body reiterating that their role is as important as any, in maintaining law and order.  

 “I am of the strong view that everyone has a role to play in the fight against crime and criminality and that includes members of the Judiciary. I add that it is important that all law abiding citizens understand the level of crime and type of criminality that exists in our midst and we should all do what we can to make Trinidad and Tobago a safer place.”

For well over two weeks, the top cop has gotten into heated debates with defence attorneys Mario Merritt, Fareed Ali and Magistrate Aden Stroude. It stemmed from Stroude criticizing police officers who claimed that judicial officers were not in court to deal with their matters. Griffith hit back at the judge, accusing him of bullying his officers.

Attorneys Merrit and Ali both slammed the Police Commissioner for his criticism. LATT has since called on he and the Government to provide evidence to support their claim that Attorneys had been assisting in criminal activity.


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