Missing AG No Big Deal!

New Security Minister Philip La Corbiniere

In the past, immediately after the country’s General Elections, an appointment of an Attorney General is made by the newly elected prime minister but this year Dr Kenny Anthony decided to suspend the appointment causing debate and controversy over the last few weeks.
Dr Anthony, during the official swearing in ceremony at the House of Parliament said, “Following the General Elections of 1997, the then Government had established the office of the Attorney General as a public office pursuant to section 72(2) of our Constitution. The post was subsequently abolished and transformed into a ministerial post. In some quarters, this decision attracted understandable criticism because it was felt that the Attorney General is better able to protect the public interest if he or she does not wear the political hat of a minister. I have accepted these criticisms and propose to re-establish the office of Attorney General as a public office.”
Of course the reason given for the suspension according to the statement above is to re-establish the office as a public office but many still want to know: Why the long wait? How long does it really take to re-establish the office as a public office and appoint someone to the office of attorney general? And is the government acting illegally by operating without an attorney general?
According to section 72 (1) of the Constitution the attorney general is the main legal advisor to the government, and he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions. The article, (2), further states that the office of attorney general shall be either a public office or the office of a Minister.
According to a legal source there would be no need for amendments to re-establish the office as a public office since the Constitution has already made allowance for it.             Easy, right? So why is there a delay by the new government to appoint a new attorney general and is it unconstitutional? That is the question many St Lucians want answers to.
Former Prime Minister Stephenson King who has in the previous administration appointed a first and second attorney general after dismissing the first told the STAR that he really does not know what the problem is.                 “It appears that the intention here is to appoint an individual who is not a politician but rather a public officer and hence the reason why the delay in the appointment,” he said.
Former attorney general and current Minister for Home Affairs, Legal Affairs and National Security, Senator Victor Philip LaCorbiniere in an exclusive interview with the STAR said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with not appointing an attorney general by the government.
LaCorbiniere explained that the government would call on the AG if a specific problem arises and require some serious legal advice. Currently, the government has a few well-established lawyers, noted LaCorbiniere.
“Clearly one would want to move quickly as you can to put an attorney general in place,” he said, “but you should not do it at the expense of rushing the process and just getting any and anybody to come in as attorney general.”
When asked why there is such a delay in appointing an AG, LaCorbiniere refuted claims that the government cannot identify a suitable candidate and further stated that since the office has been re-established as a public office, the responsibility is therefore now in the hands of the Public Service Commission.                 “The public service would have the opportunity to review the applications and based on that, the public service will make an appointment,” said LaCorbiniere. He added that the ministry dealing with legal affairs would “head hunt and identify suitable applicants” and then go through a series of steps to come up with a final candidate for the appointment.
No word was given as to how long the process will take to appoint an attorney general but LaCorbiniere emphasized that the process must be well thought out, smooth and efficient in selecting the perfect candidate whom of course, according to Dr Anthony must not be politically affiliated.

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