A man from Carenage has filed a lawsuit challenging the prohibition of the importation of camouflage clothing and material.
In the lawsuit, filed late last month, lawyers representing Isiah Pierre, of Bread Street, Carenage, are claiming that Legal Notice 33 of 1984, which prohibits the importation of “camouflage pattern material”, is unconstitutional and illegal.
According to his fixed date claim form, obtained by Guardian Media, Pierre’s lawyers are contending that then-President Ellis Clarke should not have been empowered to enact the notice as such a process, as defined by Section 44 of the Customs Act, should be within the remit of Parliament.
“The President, on his own, cannot by proclamation and/or other means criminalise the conduct of citizens without the approval of the democratically elected Parliament,” the document stated.
Pierre’s lawyers also claimed the legal notice was too broad and sweeping in its effect as even camouflage patterns not used by the T&T Defence Force on items such as women’s high heeled boots are also prohibited.
“Based on the wording of Legal Notice 33, a citizen cannot predict and/or understand and/or have fair notice of what conduct could lead to sanctions under the law given the vague and/or uncertain ambit of Legal Notice 33,” it stated.
Pierre is seeking a series of declarations against the notice as well as financial compensation for being prosecuted under it.
In his affidavit attached to the case, Pierre claimed he surrendered to police on March 21, 2018, after learning that they were looking for him for an unspecified offence. Pierre, who at the time lived with his grandmother in Petit Valley, claimed he was taken to his mother’s home in Diego Martin where police executed a search warrant for arms and ammunition.
While searching his brother’s bedroom, police officers found two camouflage pants in a cupboard. Although Pierre denied ownership, he was still charged under the Customs Act for importing the items.
The maximum penalty for the offence is an eight-year prison sentence and a $50,000 fine or three times the value of the goods, whichever is greater.
Pierre also complained that the legal notice, which prohibits all camouflage and not just those closely resembling T&T Defence Force uniforms, is very wide and unspecific.
“I am not aware of the Defence Force utilizing any colours other than green/brown camouflage, in particular, I have never seen pink, yellow, blue, orange or red camouflage used by the Defence Force,” Pierre said.
Pierre’s lawsuit has been assigned to Justice Kevin Ramcharan, who is expected to host the first case management hearing of the case on April 6.
Pierre is being represented by Jagdeo Singh, Kiel Taklalsingh, Karina Singh, and Chelsea John.
Reporter: Derek Achong