Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Legal System
(Aired 27 January 2005)

   In my commentary "Third Force" I told the public that the judicial system, even after the useless exercise we called a constitutional reform, is still completely under the control of the executive in this country i.e. I told you that Mr. Jagdeo and Freedom House control the Judges in this country even now, and that the PPP are taking advantage of this situation as Mr. Burnham did but they are getting bolder and are now committing illegal acts and human rights violations.

   Tonight I want to deal with the rule of law, how it is supposed to function and how it is in fact not functioning in this country today.

   Before I start I want to remind the public that Lord Paddy Ashdown, the British Parliamentarian sent by the UN to restore order after civil war had destroyed the country that was once Czechoslovakia, in an interview with Reuters Lord Paddy told them that he and the UN made a big mistake in Bosnia and Herzegovina because they thought that democracy came first, that the UN had presided over several democratic elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina and noting changed, because democracy does not come first, the rule of law comes first without it you cannot have decent politics, a decent economy, nothing that is even remotely approaching a democracy, our own Miles Fitzpatrick is recorded as saying recently that unless it is enforceable, the constitution of this country is just a piece of paper; unless enforceable then, the laws of this country are only just pieces of paper nothing else. And that is the honest truth!

   Mr. Jagdeo has assured everyone that he is, and has been, implementing the National Development Strategy [NDS] but it is not true he is not implementing it, since the NDS specifically identifies how judges will be appointed in this country i.e. by a two thirds vote in the National Assembly.

   Instead of implementing this provision that was recommended by the NDS which was financed by the Carter Centre the constitutional reform yielded a process by which the President no longer appoint Judges, they have to be appointed by the Judicial Service Commission now the Judicial Service Commission comprise the Chancellor, the Chief Justice, Justice Prem Persaud, Mr. Brin Pollard and Mr. Fung On.

   Lets look at these people and see if any are completely independent of interference by Jagdeo and Freedom House, Prem Persaud is the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission a civil service position which he holds after being retired a judge in the appeal court, I don't know how independent this makes him, Mr. Carl Singh is my friend he reveres my Uncle Justice Frank Vieira he told me so when he was a lawyer and my client with the black box and so he should be a man like Frank and stand up for the rule of law but he continues to allow himself to be influenced by the executive furthermore he was recently granted tax free status by Jagdeo and so has Madam Desiree Bernard, I don't know how independent that makes these two major functionaries, I don't know how right under the law this whole tax exemption story was and even if it was legal it is immoral a mechanism by which the executive can tamper with the rule of law, this brings us to Fung On, anyone who doesn't know that he is  PPP to the core and will never be impartial doesn't know anything and then there is Mr. Brin Pollard I am unable to find any reason why he would not be impartial. So him aside we do not have an independent Judicial Service Commission and consequently the appointment of Judges will not be fair or transparent with this system.

     Then there is the matter off the acting appointments within the judiciary, 5 of the Judges in the Supreme Court are acting judges, they are Justices Roxanne George, Rishi Persaud, Bovell Drakes, Judge Patterson and Jai Narine Singh.

   It is a sad commentary on us the citizens of this country and the opposition in the parliament, that we are allowing a situation to arise where the executive are withholding the promotions from these five Judges so that Jagdeo and freedom House can influence them. If this is happening and there is no reason to believe that it is not, then the separation of powers in the state between the Executive and the Judiciary is not complete and there is no democracy, are the Americans paying attention? Is the Carter Centre? 

   When the rule of law breaks down, then the entire process of democracy breaks down and to illustrate this let me outline a scenario of what has happened in region 4 which may have contributed to this current flood crisis, in the Stabroek newspaper of Sunday 23rd January 2005 on page 14, I read the following headlines Quote "Government warned under funding would see massive flooding"

    This is an article quoting the chairman of Region 4, Mr. Alan Munroe, as saying that there will be massive flooding in region 4 because the funds made available to clean the drainage system were inadequate.

    Now ladies and gentlemen I have commented on this lopsided allocation of funds to region 4 before; but Mr. Monroe is saying that he had a request in his 2004 budget for 76 Million dollars to clean the drains in region 4 and that Mr. Nocta and the Minister of Finance cut it down to $48 million, a whopping 63 percent chop! There is evidence that he received a further 12 million but this was still 16 million less than he needed.  

   By doing so I am accusing Nocta, the Minister of Finance, and the President himself of breaking the constitution. Let me tell you how:

    Article 74 (1) of our constitution tells us that and I quote "it shall be the primary duty of local democratic Organs to ensure, in accordance with law, the efficient management and development of their areas and to provide leadership by example" end quote; ladies and gentlemen this means that the leaders of the Regional and other Democratic Councils are mandated by the constitution itself to manage and develop their areas efficiently and to lead by example.

   Article 77 of the constitution reads like this and again I quote it "the development programme of each region shall be integrated into the national development plans, and the government shall allocate funds to each Region to enable it to implement its development programme" end quote.

   Now ladies and gentlemen lets examine this article 77 carefully, It says that each region shall produce its own budget and that the government shall allocate funds to carry out those works and in addition they must include it into development programme of the country, there are no ifs, ands or buts about the matter, the government shall allocate funds required by the Regions to carry out their programmes, the only conditionality as far as I can see is included in article 74 (1) and that is, if the Central Government can establish that the request being made for funds by the Region are in conflict with the concept of  making their Region more efficient.

    Well the Chairman of Region 4 has now publicly confirmed something I have long suspected, that the PPP have starved Region 4 for money over the past 10 years because the opposition holds the majority of the seats in that Region, but in sabotaging Munroe and his Council they have contributed in no small way, to the disaster currently before us.

    That is what Mr. Munroe is telling us and that is my interpretation of how the PPP has contributed to this disaster which has had the effect of destroying the property of their own supporters as well as the PNC's supporters, this plan to make Munroe look incompetent by starving them for funds has now backfired and it is the PPP that now has to take the blame.