Rambally calls on CJ, LATT to comment on Hinds

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally. –

Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally is calling the Law Association and the Judiciary to respond to comments made by National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.

Rambally said Hinds should be reprimanded for his conduct.

On May 1, Hinds claimed that “criminals have friends in the Judiciary,” while commenting on a ruling by Justice Devindra Rampersad in the constituional claim of firearms dealer, Brent Thomas.

The Judiciary condemned the minister’s statement and the judge, himself, also addressed the issue at a follow-up hearing in the Thomas case last week.

However, Rambally, an attorney, asked why the Chief Justice had not made a statement on the matter.

“Is the Chief Justice comfortable with the fact that Minister Hinds has said that he, the Chief Justice, and all the masters, the registrars, judges, including the justices of appeal are somehow linked to criminals? Hinds has acted in contempt of court and he should be severely reprimanded. I accept in legal terms it will not be deemed contempt in the face of the court but it is a contempt and he should be reprimanded for this conduct.”

Rambally called on the Law Association to hold an urgent meeting of its executive to deal with the matter.

Rambally said since Hinds was also an attorney, he breached the code of conduct detailed in the Legal Profession Act. He called on the association to uphold the code of conduct and act in an expedited manner.

In an interview with Newsday, Law Association president Lynette Seebaran-Suite said she disapproved of political or governmental officials making unfounded accusations against the Judiciary.

“There is a natural and healthy tension between the Judiciary and the Executive because the Judiciary has to pronounce on the actions of the Executive. But discourteous discourse is always bad and confusing to the public and verbal attacks on the Judiciary have the tendency to undermine our institutions, especially when those attacks come from people who hold high office.”

She noted the association had to be careful with its statements as it has a responsibility to remain neutral in politics.

“Although there is a great deal of pressure on the Law Association to take partisan political positions it is something we have to resist. The association is sometimes criticised for not speaking out on issues but it has to be careful and cannot participate in every discussion.”

Seeberan-Suite said the association also waited until the facts were revealed before pronouncements were made.