Trinidad: Call made for temperance in comments following Ole Mas protest

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Trinidad: Call made for temperance in comments following Ole Mas protest

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar. 3, CMC – The Judiciary of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (JRTT) has called for temperance in the public criticisms leveled against some judicial bodies in the twin island republic.

In a statement on Sunday, the JRTT made reference to “unwarranted, crass and demeaning criticisms a the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC), the Chief Justice and the administration of Justice.

The plea, issued under the authority of acting Chief Justice Peter Jamadar, follows an incident on Friday in which a group of costumed individuals gathered in the front steps of the Hall of Justice here with placards criticizing the judiciary.

The statement pointed to a report in the Saturday Express newspaper under the headline “Ole Mas comes to the Hall of Justice”, and introduced its report as follows: “Masqueraders bearing placards with unprintable statements directed at Chief Justice Ivor Archie drew the attention of spectators outside the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain yesterday”.

The statement added that investigations reveal that at the time there was an ongoing carnival parade here , put on by the National Carnival Commission (NCC) and themed as the ‘Traditional Carnival Characters Festival’, and that ostensibly this group was depicting Ole Mas.

“Investigations have also revealed that photographs of the group on the steps of the Hall of Justice together with comments have been circulating widely on social media both within and outside of Trinidad and Tobago, and that the incident has also been reported on in the local mainstream media.”

The statement said that while “there is no doubt that both under the Constitution and at Common Law, there exists the right to freedom of thought and expression, the right to hold and express political views, and the entitlement to be robustly critical of the administration of justice, including judicial officers,” – there are boundaries.

“Boundaries that may be legitimately stretched, but that ought also not to be crossed. …..”

The statement added that while criticism of the Judiciary and of judicial officers is permissible – “any such comment ought to be fair, reasonable and proportionate and ought to show appropriate respect for the administration of justice and judicial officers in the discharge of their duties.”

“Unwarranted, crass and demeaning criticisms are not likely to be justifiable in either the social or the public interest, and may more likely undermine them both,” the statement said.

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