ATTORNEY GENERAL Faris Al-Rawi said the Government’s ample spending on real and virtual law courts is helping women to access justice, addressing the Finance (Variation of Appropriation) (Financial Year 2021) Bill 2022 in the House of Representatives on Monday. The bill transfers $574 million from the Ministry of Finance to three heads including $35 million to the Judiciary, $8.6 million to the Personnel Department and $531 million to the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services.
The AG chided the debate’s previous speaker, Chaguanas East MP Vandana Mohit, whom he accused of “an anaemic presentation” in alleging the Government had done nothing for the people of TT. While she had called for more help for women by way of individual pandemic relief, Al-Rawi boasted of helping women by boosting the infrastructure in the judicial system.
He denied Mohit’s claim that women and the vulnerable were invisible. “Visibility is to be found in the very expenditure we’re looking at now for the provision of contract salaries as it relates to justice for women and the vulnerable.”
The AG said the Government ensured $22.62 million was spent on contract salaries across the Criminal, Civil and Family Divisions, as he alleged the Opposition had opposed most of this work.
“So when we look at $22,622,000 spent across nearly 1,000 jobs created in the judiciary by the birthing of the Criminal Division where the Domestic Violence Act has come under reform under this Government under my hand as Attorney General….” Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee interrupted to allege irrelevance, but Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George said the AG was replying to Mohit.
Al-Rawi said the bill’s provisions for the judiciary addressed the trauma of domestic violence, as he thanked the police including its Gender Based Violence Unit and the judiciary and its contract officers.”Now the visibility of domestic violence is to be found in a court room at midnight on a laptop, where a judicial officer can provide a protection order.”
He boasted of 22 courts in Trinidad and 17 in Tobago, plus courts soon to open at O’Meara and the Port of Spain Waterfront.
Al-Rawi said how prudent the Government had been to legislate in 2016-2018 and install telecommunications to lay the foundation for online courtrooms which have operated during the pandemic.