T&T judiciary takes issues with Transparency International report

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

The Trinidad and Tobago Judiciary says it wishes to “record its strong objection to the broad sweeping and totally unsupported claims” made by the German-based Transparency International (TI), and “echoed”  by the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) regarding the 2023 Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

“The 2023 CPI lumps all Judiciaries across Latin America and the Caribbean into one category. It makes no effort to back up the far-reaching and contemptuous allegations that seem to be bereft of supporting data, and lack understanding of the varying constitutions under which Judiciaries operate.

“It also does not appreciate the differences in common and civil law jurisdictions and worsens the very perception it sets out to analyse,” the judiciary said in a statement.

In its report released late last month, Transparency International said only Guyana and the Dominican Republic in the Americas have improved their Corruption Perception Index (CPI) scores over the past decade, while the others have either stagnated or significantly declined.

The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business people on a  scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). It analyses how injustice and corruption impact one another around the world.

Transparency International said in Latin America and the Caribbean, the lack of independence and transparency of the judiciary promotes corruption and the undue influence of political and economic elites.

“This renders many justice systems across the region incapable of applying the law effectively in an impartial manner or exercising their function as a check on other branches of government, which is fundamental for all well-functioning democracies,” it said.

It ranked Barbados as the highest among Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries with a rank of 24 and a score of 69. Trinidad and Tobago had a ranking of 76 with a score of 42.

In its statement, the judiciary said the TTTI report on the 2023 CPI indicates, among other things, that “this year’s results focused on the failings of the Judiciary to fulfil its role as “crucial check on other branches of government”.

The judiciary said: “Catch-all statements such as these can be taken out of context if not properly “ring fenced”. Even if jurisdiction A or B may be faced with a problem, not all jurisdictions can be painted with the same brush as the 2023 CPI Report has done; creating discord in its wake.

“Such statements which can be described as irresponsible and gratuitous, can easily have a destabalising effect on a democracy and we must be appalled and disappointed that such an effect could be ignored by an organisation which purports to aid appropriate transparency and support democracy.

“ Statements such as these are also exceedingly dangerous as they can give succour to emotionally unsteady litigants aggrieved with decisions of the court which have gone against them,” the judiciary said.

It said the media reporting on the TTTI report locally, in some quarters, “is equally jaundiced as it too did not seek to analyse the claims in the report and reported the CPI findings as applicable wholly in Trinidad and Tobago.

“The Judiciary calls on the TTTI to indicate clearly to the public of Trinidad and Tobago that the global 2023 CPI Report does not refer to Trinidad and Tobago specifically and to be transparent and scientific with its data collection methods, analysis and research,” the statement added.

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