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Kamla knocks AG’s ‘disturbing’ plan: An attack on democracy

Published: 
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
KAMLA PAESAD BISSESSAR IN PARLIAMENT

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar accused Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi of launching “a direct attack upon our democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law,” with his recent statements that the Government would not be hampered by the Opposition’s unwillingness to support certain pieces of legislation and he intends to eliminate the need for three-fifths majority support.

Persad-Bissessar said the AG’s statements “are deeply disturbing and troubling, are a frontal attack upon the Constitution and amounts to an attack upon each and every citizen of our country,” and signals that “the Rowley government is prepared to subvert the express provisions of the Constitution and infringe the fundamental rights of citizens without sanction.”

The Opposition Leader said it was “even more worrying” that the statements came from the “office holder who is constitutionally recognised as the guardian of the public interest.”

According to Persad-Bissessar it represents “yet another example of the unfitness and unsuitability of Faris Al-Rawi to continue to hold the Office of Attorney General.”

She said the Attorney General is the “legal advisor to the Cabinet and the Government, and if these statements represent the policy of this government, it is that clear that the government has no respect for the rule of law and our democracy.”

But Persad-Bissessar has “served notice” that the government would have a fight on its hands. She warned that if any attempt was made to bring any legislation which in any way infringes the constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens “and such legislation is not presented in a manner prescribed by the Constitution, it will be met with the strongest condemnation by the Opposition and will be subject to challenge inside and outside the Courts of this country.”

Persad-Bissessar said Constitution framers “fought to ensure that citizens were guaranteed fundamental rights by the State and that those fundamental rights could not be interfered with by the State unless such interference was in accordance with the Constitution.”

It was not, she said, “a play-thing for this government to tinker with as they see fit. The fundamental rights of our citizens are not pawns for the government to throw away at their whim and fancy,” she said.

Al-Rawi said on Tuesday that he was frustrated with the way the Opposition had treated with legislation requiring their support and would now be bringing legislation to deal with crime and criminal activity which do not require a three-fifths majority.

But Persad-Bissessar said “the failure of the Rowley government to obtain Opposition support for legislation is an indictment upon those who are in charge of the government and the government’s legislative agenda. It is an indictment against Faris Al-Rawi and Dr Keith Rowley.”

She urged all right thinking citizens to condemn the statements which she said are “a clear signal that this Rowley administration is prepared to transform our democracy into a dictatorship and lead us down a road that will only end in tyranny.”

Persad-Bissessar said it was “ironic that the grandfather of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi was one of those persons responsible for ensuring that these rights were constitutionally protected and, fifty-five years later his grandson as Attorney General is seeking to dismantle those protections.”