Kamla found in breach of code of conduct

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Kamla found in breach of code of conduct

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s “light em up” comment on Monday was inappropriate and insensitive and a breach of the code of conduct, according to The Council for Responsible Political Behaviour.

It also deemed Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s July 13 language about Persad-Bissessar as insensitive and inappropriate, adding it could be regarded as derogatory.

It is Rowley’s third breach.

A statement on matters concerning the two leaders, as well as on complaints about other politicians, was issued yesterday by the council’s secretary Leela Ramdeen.

Other council members are Dr Bishnu Ragoonath (Chair); Ralph Peter (Vice Chair); Dr Beverly Beckles; Dr Gabrielle Hosein; Dr Olabisi Kuboni; Dr Eastlyn McKenzie and Rev Prof Carlisle Pemberton.

The statement followed Wednesday’s council meeting which considered several complaints as possible breaches of the Code of Ethical Political Conduct.

The council stated that it received five reports about the words used by Persad-Bissessar at the UNC’s Chaguanas meeting on Monday, when she said, “So when the criminals invade your home, draw your licensed firearm and light them up! Empty the whole clip.”

The complaint was that Persad-Bissessar was invoking violence.

The council stated in its release yesterday, “The society is aware that one policy advocated by the UNC is ‘Stand Your Ground’ and to this end, the speaker was elaborating and defending the proposed policy. While policy elaboration is in keeping with the code, in the context of a society besieged with crime and violence, the language used on political platforms should be tempered to reduce societal violence.”

The release added, “The language, therefore, is what is contentious here and from the council’s perspective, the language used is inappropriate and insensitive.”

The council explained that the comment breaches Section 2 on Prohibited Conduct where politicians should not use language or act in a way that may provoke violence; intimidate candidates, party members, representatives or supporters of parties/ candidates, or voters; invite, encourage or foster hatred, resentment or any form of violence.”

The council also reminded all politicians of its Commitment Section of the Code: maintaining the highest moral principles and ethical standards with respect to their conduct during the campaign.

On Thursday, Persad-Bissessar said she was unapologetic about the remarks and repeated them in graphic “Trinibad” styling.

Meanwhile, the council said a complaint was submitted by the UNC concerning Rowley’s presentation at a July 13 Tunapuna PNM meeting.

It stated, “When Dr Rowley used ‘gratuitous ethnic innuendo’ suggesting that Indians in general, and Kamla Persad-Bissessar, in particular, are ‘alcoholics and drunkards’ telling the audience, ‘Kamla Persad-Bissessar drink your rum and go back to bed.’

“The council has reviewed the entire speech and has found that the language used by Dr Rowley was again insensitive and inappropriate and could be deemed to be derogatory. Prohibited Section clauses 3 and 4 are thus applicable herein,” it stated.