Caribbean

Office of the DPP must remain Independent Do not interfere with the Independence of these offices

Port of Spain – 2015. 05. 18. Further to reports carried in the media, where it was reported that the Attorney General wrote to the Deputy DPP stating that “he was disappointed and concerned that she took concerns to the media before raising it with him,” and additionally, being quoted as stating that he was “troubled” by the tenor of the Deputy DPP’s correspondence, the Alliance of Independents notes these statements as perturbing and can most certainly have some impact on the public perception of the Office of the Attorney General not fully understanding that the office of the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, as well as that of the DPP, to be constitutionally guaranteed its independence of operation.

The establishment of this position [DPP] stemmed from the need for a constitutional post that would always be independent of political and stakeholder involvement in the prosecution of criminal matters. In this circumstance, the independence of this post is constitutionally guaranteed.

The Attorney General would be minded to understand the separation of the role of the DPP and Deputy DPP from his office, and as such, reference to the office as that of “senior public officer” may give the perception that this “senior public officer” is required and obligated to address concerns related to matters with your office prior to taking decisions on such matters.

In similar circumstances, where the current Minister of Legal Affairs and Justice, requested a meeting with the Director of the PCA to discuss a statement issued from the office of the PCA, the Director of the PCA had to remind publicly, that his office was guaranteed its Independence, and as such, he [Director of the PCA] was not required to meet, or provide updates when requested from Government Ministers. It must be stated, that whilst certain Independent bodies are aligned to specific Ministries, their Independence from these Ministries and Ministers [including the Attorney General] are guaranteed and must be upheld.

This can be related to the similar status that the Office of the Commissioner of Police holds in the Ministry of National Security, where the Minister of National Security cannot mandate or should not even request the Commissioner of Police to update or brief him on any comment he makes prior to making a public statement. It is expected that the holder of that Independent Offices of any respective Ministry, makes appropriate statements without affecting affect the working relationship between both Offices.

This, with particular reference to the on-going “emailgate” matter, where it is important that no such interaction, or engagement, should be encouraged to prevent any perception of attempting to influence a particular outcome, as the office of the DPP is charged with the final responsibility to lay charges in criminal matters. This being stated, it is to be noted that this matter is still being investigated, and as such, the issue of “clearance of name” must be understood within the context that no one must also be labeled as “suspects” in the matter as it is still under investigation, and no such conclusions have been drawn.

The Alliance of Independents therefore calls on the Attorney General to allow both Offices of the Director and Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, the opportunity to undertake their constitutional authority in this and other matters, and further, for this matter to be manged in a responsible manner to upkeep the integrity of all parties directly or indirectly involved.

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Office of the DPP must remain Independent Do not interfere with the Independence of these offices