“What can be taking the [Dr Keith] Rowley Administration almost a year to deal with the contents with an already completed report [on former Sport Minister Darryl Smith]?
“Why the hesitancy by Prime Minister Rowley to make public the committee report?”
The following Letter to the Editor on the government’s stance on sexual harassment was submitted by former UNC Minister Devant Maharaj:
The Parliamentary statement on International Women’s Day Friday 8th March by the Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development Jennifer Baptiste-Primus that “for far too long victims of sexual harassment in the workplace have borne pain and suffering in silence as the perpetrators of this disgraceful and unacceptable behaviour have utilised intimidation, victim shaming and abuse of power to get away with it without facing any sanction or penalty—however, those days are over” is nothing short of hypocritical, if not an insulting joke on the collective intelligence of the population.
While the Minister has engaged in consultations on the Draft National Workplace Policy on Sexual Harassment, nothing has been said by the Rowley Administration on the issue that gave rise to the matter in the first place.
On 9 April 2018, Minister Darryl Smith was reassigned from the Sports Ministry to the Housing Ministry, as part of a Cabinet reshuffle. This followed several allegations of inappropriate behaviour regarding a senior Ministry official and a female employee.
The decision to terminate Smith was made two days after the damning Sunday Express exclusive report that revealed that a $150,000 settlement for wrongful dismissal was rooted in a sexual harassment claim brought by Carrie-Ann Moreau.
The payment of $150,000 alleged [came after] advice from the Office of the Attorney General. This serious issue at the time was also described as a ‘non-issue’ by Minister of Planning and Development, the Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis.
On 10 April 2018, Prime Minister Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley advised Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago—in keeping with the provision of Section 3(9) of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago—to revoke the appointment of Mr Darryl Smith as Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.
Further a committee to thoroughly review the circumstances surrounding the dismissal and payment of compensation to Ms Carrie-Ann Moreau at the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs was appointed. The committee was to be chaired by former Permanent Secretary and Human Resource Expert Ms Jackie Wilson, and included Ms Folade Mutota of WINAD and Attorney-at-Law Ms Elaine Greene.
On 4 June 2018, the report was submitted to the Prime Minister by the committee. On 18 January 2019, Communications Minister Stuart Young said a report on Smith was still under review, almost a year after the initial complaint was made.
In September 2018, in responding to a question in the House from Princes Town MP Barry Padarath as to when the report would be made public, Prime Minister Rowley said there is ‘damaging information’ in the report.
Almost a year after the committee was established, nothing has been heard about this report with damaging information. Yet Minister of Labour speaks to the Parliament with a straight face about the pain and suffering of sexual harassment in the workplace and the silence of perpetrators.
What can be taking the Rowley Administration almost a year to deal with the contents with an already completed report? Why the hesitancy by Prime Minister Rowley to make public the committee report?
It has been reported that in addition to the cash payment of $150,000 that the alleged victim has been given a job in a state agency in order to silence her and thereby end any further embarrassment to the Rowley administration.
Prime Minister Rowley—who previously described women as golf courses to be groomed, warned women about who they took to their bedrooms, and presided over a skit disrobing a woman—has no moral authority to speak on the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace and the protection of perpetrators.