Opposition Leader challenges PM on treatment of TT national in France

Thursday, November 19, 2015 - 20:00

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is challenging the Prime Minister over what she sees as the poor treatment of a T&T national in France.

The former Prime Minister issued a statement questioning why Dr Kris Rampersad was prevented from participating in an international conference and why she was not checked upon, following the terrorist attacks.

The following is the Opposition Leader's full statement:

"Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar is calling on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to investigate and explain to the people of Trinidad & Tobago why his Government publicly humiliated and abandoned a citizen of our country amidst the terrorist attacks in Paris, France.

A statement from the Opposition Leader on Friday revealed that Dr Kris Rampersad, Chair of the Education Commission and member of the Executive Board of UNESCO was denied participation at a high level meeting in Paris by a Government Minister of Trinidad & Tobago.

Persad-Bissessar said Dr Rampersad was crudely ejected from the high level meeting, and despite being a representative of our country at an international multilateral agency, no contact was made to confirm her safety following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Quoting from an article in The Independent of 19 November 2015, the statement noted Dr Rampersad’s account of the incident: “On Monday November 4, at the start of the High Level meeting on the Framework for Education to 2030, I was escorted by the Secretary to the Education Commission to the Trinidad and Tobago nameplate which forum I was invited to address as Chair of the Education Commission.”

 “However, I was told by the Minister who headed the T&T Delegation that I was not to sit with the Trinidad and Tobago delegation. I was confused. I was at UNESCO as a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago flying the flag of Trinidad and Tobago in the work of UNESCO. ‘You are not needed here,’ he said. ‘Go.’”

The former Prime Minister also highlighted Dr Rampersad’s further embarrassment when she was denied as a member of this country’s delegation. Writing in The Independent, Dr Rampersad said: “I was ‘not a member of the Trinidad and Tobago delegation’. That message came in a note three days later, addressed not to me, but to a member of the UNESCO Secretariat. I wasn’t copied in on the note, but UNESCO brought it to my attention as they wanted to understand and thought I could explain as they had looked and could not find any of the three persons named as the Trinidad and Tobago delegation on the seats with the Trinidad and Tobago nameplates in the two rooms where meetings were being held.”

Persad-Bissessar described the situation as the worst form of pettiness, “with the Rowley Government allowing its personal politics to influence our interaction with global multilateral partners, to the point of publicly insulting our own citizens and even callously ignoring threats to their lives and safety.”

“Dr Rowley must not only explain himself to the nation, but also ensure a written apology is immediately dispatched to Dr Rampersad, and UNESCO, and every effort is made to safely bring Dr Rampersad home.”