Home / View Point / Martin Daly / Pictures and images: Daly wades into furore over Army training for Al-Rawi’s children

Pictures and images: Daly wades into furore over Army training for Al-Rawi’s children

I am satisfied that the restrictions on the use of firearms and prohibited weapons contained in the Firearms Act do not readily accommodate “threat assessment training” of politically exposed persons or their families involving the possession and use of firearms.

However we live in extraordinarily violent times in an unstable country. If such training took place in breach of the Firearms Act and if as full a disclosure of the facts as national security permits is given, the public will make its own judgment whether sufficient mitigating circumstances existed. The public might then overlook legal breaches that occurred when the public officials and their families were trained and treat such breaches as a lapse in judgment.

Photo: PNM Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi. (Copyright Elections.TT)
Photo: PNM Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
(Copyright Elections.TT)

The facts may be sufficiently mitigating even if such training went further than what may have been done in the past. My fellow columnist, Raffique Shah, a former military man, in the Trinidad Express on Tuesday last, put forward matters in mitigation.

The above sets the stage for my comments on Dr Roodal Moonilal’s publication in Parliament of pictures of two teenagers—said to be the children of the Attorney General—each holding what appears to be a high powered weapon at a location said to be an Army Camp in the course of a training exercise.

Comments on these photographs must, of necessity, be tempered because we do not have all the facts and we have not been given the benefit of any comprehensive official statement on the matter.

Against the background of what we do know, should the Attorney General, Mr Faris Al Rawi, resign his office as the Opposition is loudly insisting?

The offences, if any, would have been committed by the persons in possession of the firearms and those who transferred possession to them and not the office holders. The AG is not a likely subject of prosecution. There is also no question of constitutional propriety because the Constitution does not regulate the conduct of the Attorney General or any member of Cabinet.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago soldiers on the move during joint patrols with the police. (Copyright Baltimore Examiner)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago soldiers on the move during joint patrols with the police.
(Copyright Baltimore Examiner)

In this case, therefore, the true tests of whether any question of resignation arises are the requirement—although not a requirement of law—of office holders to have moral authority and whether, the image conveyed by the pictures reveals conduct on the part of the office holder repugnant to good governance.

Before going further, I would like to emphasise that a picture depicts or records its subject but it also conveys a visual perception. Persons looking at a picture may not visually perceive the same thing.

In my view, the image or visual perception of the pictures of the two gun-possessing youngsters are a key part of the problem presented for both the AG and the Army threat assessment trainers in the court of public opinion.

They did their case harm in that forum by a lack of understanding of the ill wind of deep-seated race and class divisions in this society, which inexorably led to a reaction that the photograph represented another example of privilege—permitting something for which more ordinary youngsters would be roundly condemned.

Neither displays of resentment at the disclosure of embarrassing facts nor emotional responses impress or suppress discerning public opinion.

For “ordinary”, read poor and not fair. These deep-seated divisions are in part fuelled by the manifest lack of objective justice in our country and regularly high-handed and unlawful treatment of citizens—like wrecking a vehicle when the driver is present or readily available to move it.

Photo: A car falls victim to the wrecker.
Photo: A car falls victim to the wrecker.

The core facts, as the Leader of the Opposition has stated, are already in the public domain. With the core facts regarding firearm possession already known, one must bear in mind that ultimately it is for the DPP to decide whether any prosecutions should be pursued on the basis of what is shown in the photographs, against those who were in possession of the weapons and those who transferred them.

Conflicts of interest are the enemy of good governance but—on the facts available and given the definitive nature of the photographs and confirmation that the army was the source of the weapons at a controlled location—I do not discern any conflict between the personal interest of the AG and the professional conduct of any of his duties.

He cannot now do much to procure a change in the record of what has happened.

To the extent that the children—said to be the AG’s children—were exposed, they were exploited for partisan political purpose. The Government responses to their exposure were emotional and lacked humility and an understanding of widespread feelings that justice is not objective.

This incident may have undermined the moral authority of the office of the Attorney General, but I doubt whether it has irrevocably impaired that authority or overthrown his ability to perform his duties.

It is probably a waste of time to recommend doing so but what about occasionally saying sorry for lapses of judgment?

Photo: Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi (right) shares his views at the Transparency Institute anti-corruption conference on 8 March 2016. (Copyright Shaun Rambaran/forge.co.tt)
Photo: Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi (right) shares his views at the Transparency Institute anti-corruption conference on 8 March 2016.
(Copyright Shaun Rambaran/forge.co.tt)

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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219 comments

  1. People focused on the call for resignation when in my view that was the least of the issues as we knew that was politics. Why didn’t we focus on the breach which was reckless and clearly the bigger issue.

  2. Well, this lead to the dead end we always expected…

  3. “There is also no question of constitutional propriety because the Constitution does not regulate the conduct of the Attorney General or any member of Cabinet.” hmmm…

  4. Because of this he is now Martin Nightly

  5. Martin Daly is singing for his supper. Maybe he’ll be the next president. Pnm supporters will of course turn a blind eye on this and as usual condone everything that is wrong and make them right. As normal blame the UNC

  6. If its OK well fuk it I’ll train myself but I’m not rich so I’ll be locked up those mp5,s the special service don’t even have it if was d nx government hell on dem but all allyuh have $ an above d fukin law .

  7. Sigh !
    I guess whether this action is right or wrong depends heavily on if you’re a “UNC fanatic or a PNM till yuh dead

  8. Very well articulated Martin Daly, thank you very much. Hopefully our citizens will form correct perceptions.

  9. And this is the same Daly who is rumored to be the proposed next President ? Right

  10. This is what I think of Daly’s comment..he’s a big joke. He’s the PNM.. Presidential hopeful. AND..Sharon Rowley works with him… So doh tell me shit about unbias report

  11. Who told Ann Arrindel..that sell Gary Griffith and Om Lalla..are UNC..madame that boat sailed a long time ago..didnt you get the memo

  12. Was dem in power when he children was taking traing

  13. If some of you could only read and understand the comments made by S.C. Daly you’ll would not post so many FOOLISH comments! Stop being MYOPIC! Some of you cannot even post a SENTENCE!
    A Sentence Is A Group Of Words That Make COMPLETE sense!

  14. Brian Harry, it is a matter of legality!

  15. I am not sure if Daly has had any association with the pnm in the past ( briefs etc) but I am sure a check will reveal the correct information.

  16. So Mr. Daly is saying that because of the crime situation in our country, nothing is wrong with the children of the ag using high powered weapons. So forget about the law. So is Daly saying that that because of the crime situation in our country, citizens can aquire guns from whatever source to defend themselves. Or is Daly saying that the law does NOT apply to the ag.

    • I didn’t think it was any of the above. I thought he was saying that although the law may have been broken here, the AG is unlikely to be the person responsible since he did not put the weapons in his children’s hands. :-/

    • But Lasana, don’t you think parents are responsible for their children’s actions, especially something like that. I don’t think that anyone will take the chance to put those weapons in the hands of the ag children without his permission. You see, the point is police and judges crucify d ordinary citizens having a 1gram of marijuana but make excuses for big people when they commit huge crimes. Why????

    • I think it is unreasonable to suggest, even if the AG was not present at the time, that he did not find out what happened with his children.
      And I find Faris’ suggestion that he could not make out his children in the photo to be farcical and insulting to the intelligence of the public.
      But I do feel there isn’t enough information now to say that Faris broke any law, apart from arguably making a fool of himself. Maybe the enquiry would shed more light if we are lucky. And I cannot say I am very hopeful.
      I think there is an issue here worth looking into. It’s just that Faris isn’t necessarily the target–yet!

    • When the PNM DO SOMETHING WRONG IT IS GOOD BUT IF ANOTHER PARTY HAS DONE THAT THEY WOULD OF SAID FIRE THEM

  17. Another disappointing piece from Daly

  18. The Rowley PNM.Govt us for the Uneducated unintelligent illiterate that’s why Eric Williams Brainwash and built Free LATRINE for them.Rowley appoint a blunt head Dunce Garcia to bloody.destroy the education.system he want it to.be like Haiti ,Guyana And Africa .yes Vote for the PNM Cults .Its a different Law For PNM.govt. Mins Family the are the PNM satanic CULT Royalties.The Rowley PNM.Govt is A bloody Wicked Evil Vindictive #LIAR The are bloody Satanic #HYPOCRITES But i hope God is Not Sleeping .Burnham.@Manning did not have a happy ending Rowley God was watching .

  19. Did the AG know and give consent to his children possessing firearms? If so then he may be have committed an offence.

    From viewing the photos, it appears as thought he children received some form of firearms instruction. If one looks at where they placed their fingers ( on the trigger guard) one would understand that usually for the untrained, it is almost a ‘reflex action’ to place your finger on the actual trigger. when one places their finger along the line of the trigger guard, it is a sign of some form of instruction,in firearms use.

    If the AG’s children received training, it must be asked if he received firearms training as well – he being the primary protected person. Is he the holder of a FUL?

    Did Stuart Young train with firearms? Is he an exempted person under the Firearms Act, or does he possess a FUL?

    If there was need under the threat assessment to give some form of instruction to the children of the protected person, would there be a greater need to give the protected person firearms training?

    Are the ‘kids’ being made into scapegoats?

  20. The children were holding guns. Don’t forget that…who is responsible for the childrem

  21. An excellent, objective and elucidating piece of writing

  22. Classic piece slight of hand wherein he attempts toonerate this illegal and he tries to absolve the AG from any responsibility of the children’s act.

    Like the AG, he does not acknowledge the children as the AG’s.

    Very good legalspeak to make the AG blameless and responsibilityless in this whole issue.