Lutchmedial endorses call by DPP Office for an apology from the AG

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Lutchmedial endorses call by DPP Office for an apology from the AG

Opposition senator, Jayanti Lutchmedial is fully endorsing the call by attorneys at the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for Attorney General Reginald Armour to apologise for his comments about the office “underperforming”.

In a statement, Lutchmedial said: “I found it disturbing that someone who, in one year, has been named and shamed in so many scandals and allegations of misconduct would have the audacity to refer to anyone as underperforming.”

“Armour also has to be delusional if he expects an office to perform optimally with only half the required staff complement.
“As a former attorney in the DPP’s office, I find the accusation by Armour that the DPP’s office is underperforming to be totally tactless and shows just how out of touch he is when it comes to the many challenges faced by those who work in the criminal justice system.”

Lutchmedial said she found Armour’s remarks to be ill-advised, disrespectful and demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of the role that prosecutors play.

“A prosecutor is a Minister of justice and one cannot judge performance by conviction rates alone. Rather, the office has to be judged for its proficiency in discharging it functions, said the senator.

According to Lutchmedial, the AG should be more concerned with ensuring files don’t go missing and deadlines are not missed and simply give the DPP the resources he needs to run his department.

“As a leader, the AG is expected to show some level of interest in the challenges faced by those who he purports to lead. As head of the ministry, in which the DPP unfortunately find itself having to rely on for resources, Armour’s despicable descent to the level of criticising the office with constitutional remit to institute and discontinue criminal charges, is unforgivable. He is a politician, and as such should not be in a war of words with someone who holds such an office,” Lutchmedial said.

“Instead of proposing solutions and giving timelines by which he could assist with remedying the current situation, the AG chose to levy criticism.
The AG appears painfully unaware that many of the positions filled in the judiciary and public defenders office came from the DPPs office. I raised this matters frontally in the budget debate warning the government that the system would breakdown if all components of the system were not properly resourced.”

Lutchmedial said the Kamla Persad-Bissessar led government developed a plan for a modern well resourced prosecution service with specialized divisions comprising permanent staff, who would not be beholden to the political directorate thereby preserving their independence.

She said instead of casting blame and attempting to follow his leader and use language geared towards undermining the DPP and his staff, the AG must say why that plan is yet to be fully implemented, whilst over $45M was spent on a private prosecution law firm from London who were given a mandate to target political rivals.

“As someone who understands the difficult task of being a prosecutor, I would like to see this government stop shirking its responsibility and act in the best interest of the people of this county who deserve a prosecution service that has the resources to deliver justice,” Lutchmedial said.

“The last time there was such a public contemptuous relationship between an attorney general and a DPP was when Geoffrey Henderson was forced to stand his ground against PNM AG John Jeremie regarding the issue of charges against Basdeo Panday.
I am concerned that the criticism against the DPP in the wake of him discontinuing one of the Piarco matters and the sordid Nelson gate affair has less to do with performance and is really an expression of the PNMs displeasure with the DPP’s stance in these politically sensitive matters,” noted Lutchmedial.