In May 2006, Justice Peter Jamadar, a Christian, ruled that "the Trinity Cross - the nation’s highest award - is strictly a Christian symbol, and as a result, it discriminates in a multi-religious society." “In my opinion, leaving aside the savings clause argument for the moment, the respondent has shown no accommodation whatsoever to ameliorate the indirect adverse discriminating effects of the award of the Trinity Cross on the applicants as Hindus and Muslims and as corporate citizens representing Hindus and Muslims in T&T.” Although he found it to be discriminatory, he said that it does not mean that the court can strike it down. As it was protected by the 1976 constitution, it is a matter for the Parliament to change.
Permission was given on January 16th, by the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation, for the planned anti-crime rally at the Aranguez Savannah. On January 23rd the Regional Corporation, controlled by the ruling People's National Movement party, revoked permission for the use of the savannah.
On the 22nd, Police Commissioner Trevor Paul claimed that members of the business community contacted him expressing anxiety about Ishmael’s call. Based on four complaints, the contents of which are yet to be made public, the Police Commissioner recommended that the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad & Tobago (TATT) investigate the alleged conduct of the talk show host. Columbus Communications, the cable company on which IBN TV8 airs, said they have “no choice” but to pull the popular talk show “Breaking Barriers” off the air over complaints by TATT over “questionable content.”
At approximately 9:20 pm on the eve of the planned shutdown, he was arrested under the Anti-Terrorism Act (2005) by approximately twelve police officers at his home during a barbecue dinner with his friends. The Anti-Terrorism Act (2005), however, does not give the power to the police to arrest except by a detention order of a judge. Also “any act which disrupts any service and is committed in pursuance of a demonstration, protest, or stoppage of work is specially exempted from the definition of a terrorist act.”
He was asked to strip naked and squat in the middle of the Central Police Station in Port-of-Spain. The next day he was charged, not under the Anti-Terrorism Act (2005), but under the Summary Offences Act, Section 105, which “requires a person who prints or publishes any book, circular, pamphlet, etc to include in it in some conspicuous place the name and address of the printer and publisher.” The penalty for such an offence carries a fine of TTD$1,000 or six months simple imprisonment.
Condemnation for his arrest, the cancellation of the venue for his rally, and the removal of his television show were roundly criticised by various groups including political parties such as the United National Congress, Congress of the People (Trinidad and Tobago), and the Movement for National Development; The All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers’ Trade Union; the community group YesTT; and rights groups such as Disabled People’s International and Rights Action Group. Allegations of intimidation by the Government were denied by Cabinet Minister Kenneth Valley who denied even knowing his name.
Although many business places in South and Central Trinidad closed their doors on the 25th and 26th, many business places along the PNM controlled East-West corridor stayed open.
Even though his lawyers succeeded in getting a High Court Judge, Justice Peter Jamadar, to order the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation to allow the anti-crime rally on the 27th, Commissioner of Police Trevor Paul did not respond to Ishmael’s application for permission to use a public address system. The rally was moved to a site that did not require permission to use a loud speaker and, according to local newspapers, attracted a crowd of several hundreds.
This was not his first arrest; Ishmael was arrested, and his camera confiscated, in April 2005 for insulting a police officer and disrupting traffic during a protest in Bamboo settlement No. 2. He was protesting the conditions of the roads and infrastructure at that time.
Sections 104 and 105 of the Summary Courts Act says that he could only have been arrested without a warrant if he had been found committing the offence, but on the day of the charge, January 25th, he was already in custody and thus could not be committing the said offence on that day.
“Not only is the whole thing very confusing, but also it leaves the police with egg on their face, to say the least.
The bottom line is that if Ishmael was arrested on the pamphlet charge, he could not legally have been arrested without a warrant, as it is a summary offence (committed out of sight of the police). If a warrant was obtained for this minor offence, it ought not to have been granted in the absence of just cause: he was likely to flee or was avoiding the police.
On the other hand, if he was arrested on suspicion, based on reasonable cause, of an offence under the Anti-Terrorism Act, if the suspicions did not prove justified, the police ought not to have then proceeded to the trivial pamphlet charge.”