TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: The AG’s letter to Dep DPP Joan Honore-Paul / Trinidad Express / Dear Ms. Honore-Paul,
Re: Investigations into the e-mail disclosures made in the House of Representatives May 20, 2013 and May 24, 2013
Your letter dated May 13, 2015 on the subject at caption refers.
On the morning of Thursday 14 May 2015, I awoke to front-page media reports that you had issued a press release outlining concerns about the use and/or reference to a letter sent from the US Department of Justice by certain individuals.
You would recall that at approximately 6:55 p.m. on May 13, 2015 you placed a telephone call to me indicating that you would be sending a facsimile transmission to my office. I at that time indicated that I was at a meeting and had left the office for the day.
As such, I only got sight of said fax, containing your aforementioned letter, on the morning of May 14, 2015.
The concerns expressed in the media reports were similar to those articulated in your letter to me, which was faxed subsequent to your 6:55 p.m. phone call.
Further it would appear that the contents of your letter were made available to the media on May 13, 2015 prior to communicating any of your concerns to me. It is reported that CCN TV6’s twitter feed began circulating news of your statement at 6:00 p.m. on May 13th, 2015. Social media sites, including “For Trinidad & Tobago” also began circulating the contents of your letter from as early as 11:17 p.m. on May 13, 2015.
Since assuming the role of Attorney General, I have maintained a very cordial and professional working relationship with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions as the line Minister. I have had meetings with the DPP on quite a few issues especially geared towards the increased efficiency of the DPP’s Office as well as the welfare of its staff.
At no time prior to you press release was I approached by the DPP or you as Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions on the issues referenced in same. As such, you would no doubt understand my disappointment and concern for your judgment, as a senior public officer, in taking your concerns to the media before first addressing these concerns directly with me.
You would no doubt be cognisant of the special constitutional relationship between our offices as clearly articulated in the dictum of the Hon. Mr. Justice Bereaux (as he then was) in construing the powers of the Director of Public
Prosecutions. under Section 90 of the Constitution in the case of Singh v The Attorney General (H.C.A. No. S 395 of 2001):
“In this regard the words ‘subject to 76(2)’ place on the Director a duty to keep the Attorney General informed of major and important matters of public interest or which affect the public interest…
That dictum was cited with approval by the Hon. Mr. Justice Jamadar in a subsequent judgment from the Court of Appeal.
Let me make it clear that your concerns with regard to the correspondence from the U.S. Department of Justice finding its way into the public domain are noted, especially given the fact that the Central Authority retains no copies of documents furnished by Foreign Law Enforcement Agencies and simply forwards same to the relevant authorities, in this case The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and The Office of the DPP.
I note from your press release that you also disclosed the view of the U.S. Department of Justice that the application met the required level of “probable cause”. Your reference to “probable cause” may possibly be construed as suggesting criminal wrongdoing by the persons involved, which you would agree would be highly prejudicial to them. It would appear from information in the public domain that, reference was only made to the existence of correspondence from the U.S. Department of Justice and a call was made to rule on same, as opposed to listing the contents of the attachments to the letter in which protected information or evidence, if any, would have been contained.
I am also concerned about your comments with respect to parallel investigations by interested parties being “palpably self-serving.” Please be reminded that no criminal prosecutions have been instituted against any of the individuals concerned with regard to the email disclosures. These matters are still within the investigatory realm of the police service. The reputations of those persons have been called into question, and it is entirely open to them to publicly seek swift vindication. You are reminded that this investigation was initiated by the Prime Minister for this very reason.
No organ of the State, including the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, ought to discourage or in any way threaten the constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression, without lawful justification. As the guardian of the public interest, I consider it my duty to respectfully remind you to operate within your constitutional purview to ensure that the fundamental rights and freedoms of accused persons are not threatened by your statements or actions.
I am also troubled by the overall tenor of your letter, including your publicised comment that a no man should be a judge in his own cause”. This comment could leave a reasonable reader with the perception that there is in fact a case to be answered before the Courts of Trinidad and Tobago. This is of particular concern given, as you have said, that the investigations are not yet complete. You would no doubt agree that this would impact upon public perception of the independence and competence of the office of the DPP.
I wish therefore to appeal to you to maintain the independence of the Office of the DPP and preserve the integrity of the criminal justice process in relation to the aforesaid investigations, by exercising careful consideration before making any other public statement which may have the tendency to prejudice persons accused of criminal conduct, bearing in mind that those persons enjoy the presumption of innocence and the right to all procedural safeguards to protect their fundamental rights as guaranteed by our Constitution.
As previously indicated, since my assumption of office I have enjoyed a cordial and professional working relationship with the Office of the DPP. This relationship remains premised on mutual respect for the constitutional boundaries of our respective offices and confidence in each other to faithfully discharge our duties to the Republic.
Please be assured of my continued highest consideration.
Con Información de Trinidad Express
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