NTA notes with increasing concern the ongoing imbroglio surrounding the incumbent Attorney General, relating to his sworn testimony in ongoing litigation in the United States. The facts of this matter, including the Attorney General’s actual role as counsel in the Brian Kuei Tung matter, are in the public domain. The NTA has thus far reserved comment, giving the Attorney General the opportunity to do the honourable thing, and in lieu of this, the Prime Minister to do the right thing for the country. But this has not been the case, and it speaks to a pattern of behaviour from high office holders who seem to think that burying their heads in the sand, and hoping that the issue goes away, will be sufficient. And whilst this may be par for the course in politics, it is regrettable for the hierarchy of the Law Association to indulge in these tactics, by issuing a very soft release, in contrast to many members of the association, who signed a document calling for Armour’s immediate resignation, but it was unconscionable that LATT failed to even issue one statement, during the recent constitutional crisis that involved two of the country’s highest office holders.
The silence adopted by the Attorney General is not an option. This fact is underscored by the litany of calls from senior attorneys for him to speak on this matter, or to step down. As titular head of the bar, the conduct and integrity of the Attorney General impacts on public trust and confidence in the legal profession, and the justice system, which together form a critical pillar of our democracy. The Attorney General also holds an unparalleled role under our Constitution, being one of two offices necessary for a Government to be properly constituted, and represents the State in legal matters both locally and internationally. The Attorney General is the Central Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, dealing with all requests for extradition and mutual legal assistance. This is a position that requires the trust and confidence of our international partners to function effectively, or at all. The Attorney General’s assigned portfolio also includes other critical matters for Trinidad and Tobago’s economy and international reputation, including international law and human rights; anti-money laundering, combatting the financing of terrorism, and proliferation financing; and intellectual property. The fact that the allegations against the Attorney General centre around possible perjury in a foreign court, further prejudices the country’s credibility in the international community, particularly in these critical areas.
The NTA reminds that the Office of the Attorney General should be seen as a guiding light for all of our citizens, maintaining the highest ethical standards. In his short career as Attorney General that light seems to have been quickly extinguished. The NTA therefore calls on the Attorney General to restore public trust and confidence in that office, and to avoid further damage to the reputation of the country by immediately stepping down, failing which the Prime Minister should immediately remove him.