Rowley raises "Section 34" fiasco again

As election campaigning heats up, the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) is taking aim yet again at the controversial section 34 fiasco.

Speaking at a political meeting last evening at the Mt. Hope Basketball Court, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley jabbed the Prime Minister’s statements that the People’s Partnership will have a zero tolerance approach to crime should they be voted into office come September 7th.

“Section 34 was a crime!” Rowley shouted, also saying that the Congress Of the People’s Prakash Ramadhar supported Section 34 legislation as well.

However, in 2012, former Prime Minister Patrick Manning issued a statement on his Facebook page saying “If I were opposition leader I would not have voted for section 34.” It prompted former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to express what he said was his vindication over what he calls “a collective parliamentary oversight.”

The Hansard records that only two raised concerns over Section 34 of the Administration of Justice Indictable Proceedings Act; Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert, and PNM Senator Faris Al Rawi had a sidebar conversation with the then Attorney General over the possible impact of the clause on the Piarco fraud cases.

Media reports indicate that Manning said he “totally rejects Section 34 which would have paved the way for corrupt person to escape the law. Had I been there for the vote on the Administration of Justice Indictable Proceedings Bill, my position would have been completely different from the rest of the parliament including my party colleagues.”

Former AG Ramlogan is quoted as saying in 2012 that since the bill needed a Special Majority, had both the Opposition and Independent benches not voted for it, there would be no controversy surrounding Section 34.

Since then Dr Rowley has been repeatedly asked about why he voted for the controversial clause.

The legislation was proclaimed in August of 2012 but was immediately repealed days later following an emergency parliamentary sitting.

Dr Rowley also took aim at the Prime Minister, alleging that $250 million was approved by her last week, and said he wants to know what the allegedly approved sum is for.

The party said it will release its Manifesto online and in hardcopy on Thursday.

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