MEDIA RELEASE - AUGUST 12th, 2015
STATEMENT ON THE COUNCIL'S DELIBERATION
Over the past three weeks, the Council for Responsible Political Behaviour met on two occasions to consider complaints made by members of the public. In deliberating on these complaints, and cognizant that the country is in the midst of an election campaign, the Council will like to reiterate the simple objectives of the Code of Ethical Political Conduct. These are as follows:
This Code of Ethical Political Conduct (this Code) is intended to achieve the following objectives:
Fostering of democracy through peaceful, free and fair elections conducted at regular intervals in which voters are permitted to cast their ballots freely, without interference, fear, intimidation or bribery.
Promotion of respect for human rights, the pursuit of civil and political liberties, the tolerance of divergent opinions, full and active participation of all in the political process.
Encouraging participation in the electoral process by the People and to uphold their right to make political choices.
Promoting an election process free from violence.
Turning to the deliberations of the Council, in the meeting held on July27, 2015 the Council will like to report on two complaints, namely:
Statements made by Mr Fitzgerald Hinds at a meeting in Morvant in relation to the Third force and its Chairman. In this matter the Council found that Mr Hinds statements were in breach of sections 2(3) and 2(5) of the Code of Ethical Political Conduct.
Attacks on Dr Keith Rowley in the “NoRowley” campaign as well as other platform presentations which focussed on Dr Rowley. While this matter was not fully resolved concerns were raised as to whether the Council could call on a party to stop or alter their campaign strategy. The matter was deferred to the next meeting.
At the meeting on Monday August 10, 2015 the deferred matter from the previous meeting as well as several additional complaints were considered. Although several of these additional complaints suggested that there were overt breaches of the Code, the Council could find no supporting evidence of the actual statements and thus could not take these matters forward. Effectively the Council can report on its deliberations on three matters, namely:
Attacks against Dr Rowley in the “noRowley” campaign
A complaint against Mr Hinds while speaking at the Morvant meeting (treated with at the earlier meeting) when he used language which could incite violence.
A complaint against Dr Rowley when he claimed that friends of the UNC had paid someone to assassinate him.
With regard to the attacks on Dr Rowley and the ‘noRowley” campaign, while sections 2(3), 2(4) and 2(5) are of concern, more critically the Council would underscore Section 2(14) as being breached.
With reference to the other complaints, here too the Council finds that Sections 2(3), 2(4) and 2(5) were breached. All the sections wherein breaches occurred are stated hereunder as a reminder to all.
s2(3) Not make false or defamatory allegations in print or speech in connection with an election in respect of a Party, its Candidates, representatives or members.
s2(4) Not use language or act in a way that may - a) Provoke violence; or b) Intimidate Candidates, members of Parties, representatives or supporters of Parties or Candidates, or voters; or c) Invite, encourage or foster hatred, resentment or any form of violence.
s2(5). Not seek to assassinate the character of or make defamatory comments about any individual, family, professional group or section of the community.
s2(14) Not indulge in negative campaigning or advertising or any action which would bring the political process into disrepute.
The Council would like to acknowledge that various parties and their leadership have been striving to maintain the tenets of the Code. Moreover, when cited as having been in breach of the Code, we note that there have been concerted efforts to ensure that such breaches do not recur.
Finally, in encouraging members of the public to report any such breaches of the Code as they may observe, we do wish to recommend that evidence be submitted with their complaints.
Submitted on behalf of the Council
Dr. Bishnu Ragoonath