Attorney Dr Emir Crowne

KEVON [email protected]

The Media Association (MATT) has referred Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) president Ancel Roget to the Equal Opportunities Commission following his labelling of newspaper editors as “house ni**gers”.In a complaint to the Commission yesterday, New City Chamber’s Barrister Dr Emir Crowne contended that Roget, as JTUM president, is arguably T&T most powerful and well-known trade unionist. Crowne wrote that Roget’s words have the likelihood to incite racial hatred is therefore further heightened.“To that end, the Complainant asks the Commission to investigate the matter further, prepare a report and refer the incident as needed to the Tribunal for further actioning. This type of racist and vile behaviour should not be tolerated in a civil society, particularly one that values press freedom, decency and basic human dignity.”On Tuesday, the JTUM members gathered for a media conference at the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union Paramount Building headquarters in San Fernando, calling for a meeting with the government to discuss outstanding wage negotiations. Wary of the criticism the JTUM might receive for making the call during the elections period, Roget took aim at the editors of the three daily newspapers.“I want to make the point for those editors, those house ni**ers who scribe for the one per cent and who for the establishment, advance the establishment’s position, that this morning, I as the president of the Joint Trade Union Movement is not calling for more money or for ah being unreasonable, I’m not being unreasonable or so.”He continued: “I want to remind you house ni**ers in the Guardian and the Express and the Newsday and so on, I want to remind you that we have been raising these issues all of the time. And we will continue to raise them in this time, we will continue to raise it after elections.”And again: “The media was there. You editors, you house ni**ers, your hard workers were out there, so you can spin these how you want, they were out there. We really do not care about any of you all anyway.”Section 7 of the Equal Opportunity Act, 2000, titled “offensive behaviour”, prohibits racist and other vile attacks. Sub-section 7 (1) states that: “A person shall not otherwise than in private, do any act which— (a) is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of persons; (b) is done because of the gender, race, ethnicity, origin or religion of the other person or of some or all of the persons in the group; and (c) which is done with the intention of inciting gender, racial or religious hatred.”Crowne said the vile reference to “house ni**ers” was an even more derogatory perversion of the term “house negro”. The phrase “house negro has already received consideration by the Commission in Kejan Haynes v. Phillip Edward Alexander, EOC Complaint No. 062/ 2018.Crowne said it was clear that the phrase refers to the race of certain members of the media. He noted that it may not apply to all members, but some. However, he said that when Roget’s statements are taken in totality, it is clearly intended to incite racial hatred toward certain members of the media fraternity.“Journalists in the ordinary course of their work routinely engage in face-to-face contact with members of the public. Mr Roget’s statements have the very real potential of endangering the well-being of certain members of the media fraternity. Furthermore, Mr Roget’s words, quite literally, liken certain members of the media fraternity to ethnic/racial traitors who operate at the behest and whims of the elite.”A copy of the complaint was also sent to Roget’s office.