More heat inside and outside of the Parliament tomorrow!
As several hundred businesses in Trinidad shut down today to protest the crime situation, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar will seek to haul Attorney General Faris Al- Rawi before the Privileges Committee for allegedly misleading Parliament recently.
The move on Al- Rawi was confirmed yesterday in a statement from Persad- Bissessar.
UNC MP Roodal Moonilal confirmed the closure of businesses. Both were to speak at last night’s UNC “Pavement” meeting.
Government and Opposition return to the House of Representatives this afternoon to continue debate on the Evidence Amendment Bill . This was suspended last week after the Opposition refused to support the Bill .
The Bill is designed to facilitate use of evidence given via electronic systems – from CCTV to video recordings- in court and to protect those giving evidence.
Government said it suspended debate last week Friday to give the Opposition time to re-examine the Bill. But the UNC has stood firmly against it.
Last Friday’s debate occurred following discovery of the body of murdered court clerk Andrea Bharatt.
Protesters outside of the Red House that day called for further laws to protect women from violence. Vigils continued in the last week in UNC held constituencies.
Consequently more vigils are expected outside of the Red House again for today’s debate.
Also, a number of businesses in South, Central, East and North aren’t opening today in solidarity with the call for better crime legislation and law enforcement
Inside the Parliament, Persad- Bissessar will move against Al- Rawi concerning what the UNC said was “irresponsible, misleading and dishonest representations” he made during last Friday’s debate .
The UNC stated,”The Attorney General placed on record and informed the public the Law Association and the Assembly of Southern Lawyers (ASL) had supported the Evidence (Amendment) Bill 2020. Three days later, in a February 8 release the Law Association in effect denied the claims made by the Attorney General as they have said they cannot support the Bill in its present manifestation.”
“Further, in a February 11 letter , the Assembly of Southern Lawyers (ASL) wrote to the Attorney General stating his statements were untrue and they categorically stated the ASL provided no comments to the (Parliamentary) Special Select Committee and at no point in time did they indicate their support of the Evidence (Amendment) Bill.”
Persad-Bissessar’s statement added, “As recently as (Wednesday), we saw the Attorney General making comments that may amount to a contempt of court, regarding an active case before a High Court Judge. Now, in the full glare of the public, he’d deliberately misled the Parliament by misusing the Law Association and ASL’s names.”
“As such, he has committed a contempt of the Parliament. The Attorney General, as titular head of the Bar, ought to have executed his duties in a truthful, responsible manner so as not to mislead the Parliament and the public. In a desperate attempt to garner support for a Bill he has misled the country. “
The UNC accused the AG of commiting a breach of privilege “and he should be referred to the Committee of Privileges.”
Also, today in Parliament, Prime Minister Keith Rowley will face Opposition questions in the monthly segment on questions for the PM.