Tribunal into doctor’s ‘racist rant’ set for July 2
The first hearing of the Medical Board’s tribunal into the alleged racist conduct of Philippine-based physician Dr Avinash Sawh is on July 2.
In a letter sent to Sawh and his attorney Martin George, the Board’s attorney, Rajiv Persad of Allum Chambers, indicated that the hearing would be virtual and requested an email address for Sawh and his representatives to facilitate the hearing. The tribunal does not propose to begin the hearing of the substantive matter on July 2. However, it will use the occasion to explain the procedure and give directions for the filing of any preliminary issues for the tribunal’s consideration.
Persad said that when the process ends, depending on how the tribunal rules on Sawh’s preliminary arguments, it might become necessary to set a date for an evidential hearing.
The charges against Sawh alleges that while being a member of the Medical Board, he participated in a conversation that someone recorded and put into the public domain. Those comments are capable of amounting to infamous and disgraceful conduct. It also alleges that Sawh posted on social media, certain tweets that are attributed to his name and which are capable of amounting to infamous and disgraceful conduct.
On March 3, Sawh and George wrote to the Board, disputing several matters of the probe. In response, Persad said the Board felt that setting up a tribunal was sensible as it would allow Sawh to present his concerns about the allegations against him.
“At the tribunal, you or your representative will be allowed to challenge any material, give evidence and make whatever representations you think necessary in order to assist the tribunal in their deliberations. Towards this end, Counsel has been instructed by the Council of the Medical Board of Trinidad and Tobago to assist in the preparation of and conduct of an inquiry pursuant to Section 24 of the Medical Board Act, which the Council proposes to hold in relation to you.”
Persad said the Board a file to him. Based on its contents, it appears that while being a member of the Board, Sawh was involved in an audio recording between himself and a person that found itself in the public domain in circumstances where his conduct violated Section 24 of the Medical Board Act.
It prompted complaints by people outside of the Medical Board that he posted tweets that also violated Section 24 of the Medical Board Act.
Persad also provided copies of emails, letters, newspaper clippings and other material presented to the Board regarding Sawh’s alleged conduct.
It included complaints from Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, the Registered Nurses Association, the African Student Union, national awardee Wendell Everseley, and regular citizens who presented links and screenshots of the alleged racist tweets.
BY: KEVON FELMINE