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Tancoo – Another Government Failure In National Security As Judges Denied Protection

What is the price of a Judge’s security? Who determines whether special security provisions for members of the judiciary are necessary or not necessary and on what basis? These are some of the basic questions being asked by Opposition MP Dave Tancoo, who expressed grave concern over reports that members of the judiciary who received death threats have been abruptly denied Police protection.

Tancoo said that, “Judges receiving threats due to their rulings is distressing enough but what is even more alarming is that the State is refusing to protect judges. Judges must be able to perform their duties impartially, without fear of reprisal. If a judge receives a threat in the course of his/her duty to the State, there is no question that the State has a responsibility to ensure the safety of that judge so that he/she could continue to impart their duty.”

In this particular instance as reported by the media, this judge seems to be a regular target for death threats, so it defies the simplest of logic as to why the Commissioner would remove his security detail and thereinafter refuse to reinstate a security detail in light of new threats. Despite the several pleas being made by the judge to the Commissioner, the Minister of National Security and even the Prime Minister as head of the National Security Council, there has been no response to date.

According to Tancoo, “The Judiciary, as an independent body, routinely adjudicates in matters involving the Police Service and the Government. Therefore, when a judge is being repeatedly terrorized, the withholding of security by the Police Commissioner and/or Government suggests either negligence or malice, and both are completely unacceptable in the circumstances.”

The Oropouche West MP says that the entire situation does not bode well for the administration of justice in Trinidad and Tobago, and posits that, “from all accounts, it appears that a judge is being forced out of office due to the State declining to protect him. This should be deeply troubling to all citizens as the independence and security of judges are critical in the war on crime.”

Tancoo, who is also a lawyer, notes that “It is critical that those in the forefront of the fight against criminals be given the tools to do the job, chief among these being their safety. This is true for the members of the protective services and the Judiciary.” The Opposition MP cautions that the matter must be taken seriously. “I am calling on the Government and Police Commissioner to do their duty and not leave themselves open to speculation that they are negligent, impugning the independence of the judiciary or abusing their authority.”

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