January 26 2016 – newsday.co.tt
FORMER prime minister and current Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday said the ruling by the Privy Council was a clear vindication of her then government’s decision to repeal the controversial Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Act.
In a statement yesterday, the Opposition Leader said the ruling in the challenge of businessmen Steve Ferguson and Ameer Edoo, and three companies, highlighted the swift action taken by the then People’s Partnership government to convene Parliament, on an emergency basis, “to repeal a law that was unanimously passed with the support of all Members of Parliament with the noble intention of improving the system of criminal justice.” “This decision of the Privy Council represents a victory for the rule of law and the Constitution. The decision affirms the supremacy and power of parliament. The effect of this decision is that the State’s right to prosecute those persons who may have benefited from section 34 in its original form has now been preserved,” said Persad-Bissessar who is an attorney.
Noting specific reference was made in the judgment to herself and then Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Persad-Bissessar said, “This decision puts to rest, by a judegment of our highest Court, the criticisms of the then Opposition (PNM) of the action of the PP government.
The reasons behind the passing of Section 34 in its original incarnation remain valid.” “The legality and constitutionality of the action of the government I led in passing the repeal legislation has been tested and affirmed at each level of our judicial system.
This judgment is a resounding victory for the People’s Partnership Government which was the subject of much vilification and political attack by those who were bent on political exploitation of what was a Constitutional crisis which was created with their active participation and support in Parliament,” Persad-Bissessar noted.