Tancoo calls for full reinstatement of judge’s police detail

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Oropouche West MP Davendranath Tancoo – Photo courtesy TT Parliament

OROPOUCHE West MP Davendranath Tancoo wants to know the price of a judge’s security.

In a media release on February 18, Tancoo asked, “Who determines whether special security provisions for members of the Judiciary are necessary or not necessary and on what basis?”

His questions come after High Court judge Frank Seepersad wrote to Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher for a reinstatement of the complement of his security detail because of death threats. The judge currently has one Special Branch officer assigned to him down from four. He has had to augment his security and that of his family with private security.

Seepersad has been provided police protection since 2017, because of death threats which continued in 2020, 2022 and 2024 because of the high-profile cases he adjudicates on.

In his statement, Tancoo said, “Judges receiving threats due to their rulings is distressing enough but what is even more alarming is that the State is refusing to protect judges. “Judges must be able to perform their duties impartially, without fear of reprisal.

“If a judge receives a threat in the course of his/her duty to the State, there is no question that the State has a responsibility to ensure the safety of that judge so that he/she could continue to impart their duty.”

Tancoo said it defied logic for the authorities to refuse to reinstate the judge’s full security detail.

“The Judiciary, as an independent body, routinely adjudicates in matters involving the police service and the Government. Therefore, when a judge is being repeatedly terrorised, the withholding of security by the Police Commissioner and/or Government suggests either negligence or malice, and both are completely unacceptable in the circumstances.”

The Oropouche West MP said the entire situation did not bode well for the administration of justice in Trinidad and Tobago.

“From all accounts, it appears that a judge is being forced out of office due to the State declining to protect him. This should be deeply troubling to all citizens as the independence and security of judges are critical in the war on crime.

“It is critical that those in the forefront of the fight against criminals be given the tools to do the job, chief among these being their safety.

“This is true for the members of the protective services and the Judiciary.”