MEDIA RELEASE - MAY 5, 2015
STATEMENT ON THE COUNCIL'S DELIBERATION
The Council for Responsible Political Behaviour met on Monday May 4, 2015 and considered complaints made against Dr. Roodal Moonilal as a UNC platform speaker. The complaints were that on several occasions Dr. Moonilal had referred to the Leader of the Opposition in terms which could be deemed to be derogatory, demeaning and/or defamatory. The complainant supplied newspaper clippings to support the case of possible breaches. The Council, whose mandate is to monitor and evaluate adherence to the Code of Ethical Political Conduct, considered the complaints. Its deliberations were supported by additional commentaries from some Council Members who had themselves seen several of these platform presentations on television. The Council observed that a number of the statements made by the Minister are in breach of the Code of Ethical Political Conduct. Specifically, sub-sections (3), (5) and (17) of Section 2 of the Code were breached. These clauses are:
Sub-section 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.
Sub-section 5. Not seek to assassinate the character of or make defamatory comments about any individual, family, professional group or section of the community.
Sub-section 17. Not criticize aspects of the private lives of Candidates, their families, not connected with the public activities of the leaders or Candidates of other Parties.
It may be noted that within its deliberations the Council considered whether the statements under review could be deemed to be mere 'picong.' The Council however adopted the perspective that although insulting language could often be deemed to be acceptable in the context of 'picong,' personal references and name calling which can be. unequivocally offensive and demeaning, and which cannot be substantiated, are not in keeping with the Code of Ethical Political Conduct.
The Council is calling on the UNC to ensure that platform speakers strive towards upholding the Code to which they are a signatory. Moreover, the leadership is reminded of the commitment under Section 1(2) of the Code to: "Maintain the highest moral principles and ethical standards with respect to their conduct during the campaign, the elections and the post-election period."
Submitted on behalf of the Council
Dr. Bishnu Ragoonath