Hall of Justice, Port of Spain. –
THE Judiciary has objected to statements made by Transparency International (TI) and its local chapter, the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI), in TI’s 2023 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which claim it has not fulfilled its role to keep other branches of government in check.
The CPI, released on January 30, said, “A country’s failed judiciary, entrenched in corruption, negatively impacts the quality of life of citizens as persons are hesitant to avail themselves of its services for fear of retributions. Therefore, under an ineffectual judiciary, corruption will continue to thrive thus devastating the country as a whole.”
In a statement issued on February 2, the Judiciary said, “The 2023 CPI lumps all judiciaries across Latin America and the Caribbean into one category. It makes no effort to back up the far-reaching and contemptuous allegations that seem to be bereft of supporting data, lack understanding of the varying constitutions under which judiciaries operate.”
TTTI, the Judiciary continued, has not reviewed several public law decisions made by the courts.
The Judiciary added that owing to its independence and role of dispensing justice unequivocally, perceptions may lead to the recipients of its decisions expressing different views.
But it reiterated that this cannot be interpreted to mean it is failing to play its part in reducing corruption.
“Such statements, which can be described as irresponsible and gratuitous, can easily have a destabalising effect on a democracy and we must be appalled and disappointed that such an effect could be ignored by an organisation which purports to aid appropriate transparency and support democracy.”
The Judiciary said the statements in the CPI ” are also exceedingly dangerous as they can give succour to emotionally unsteady litigants” digruntled over judgments which have gone against them.”
The Judiciary was also critical of some media reports about the CPI which it said made no effort to analyse it and simply reported the CPI findings as totally applicable to TT.
The Judiciary called on the TTTI to indicate clearly to the public that the 2023 CPI report “does not refer to TT specifically and to be transparent and scientific with its data collection methods, analysis and research.”
In the CPI countries are scored from 0-100, with zero being most corrupt and 100 being least corrupt.
TT achieved a score of 42 in the 2023 CPI.
The CPI report makes no mention of TT with respect to the nations perceived as most or least corrupt in the Americas. The former and latter titles belong to Venezuela and Canada respectively.
In a statement on January 30, the TTTI said, “TT must be mindful that the perceived level of corruption is still very high as there appears to be an inability or lack of effort and interest on the part of public officials to tackle corruption.”
The group reiterated its calls for the passage of whistleblower and campaign finance legislation in Parliament as signs that TT is serious about fighting corruption.
The next general election is constitutionally due next year.