THE EDITOR: As a young person living in a high crime area, I believe it is important for me to give my views on the crime problem.
I have lived my entire life in Maloney and my friends and I have done good for ourselves by attaining decent jobs and following the rule of law. It is for this reason that it pains me to see that our community has been branded as “at-risk” by society.
One of the problems facing our community is the lack of a police presence. As a result, I listened attentively to the debate over the Defence (Amendment) Bill as I believe it may help the situation. For me, waking up to see another day is far more important than political allegiance.
I believe that as a society we need to have a meaningful debate as to whether or not giving soldiers powers of arrest is best for our country at this time. We need to look in detail at the pros and cons of this proposal and make an informed decision for the benefit of our country. I pray everyday for a society that is truly interested in the development of our beloved country.
As a result, I am disappointed by the Opposition’s position as it falls significantly short of my hopes.
I am extremely fed up of this party-before-country politics in TT.
In 2008, the former Minister of National Security, Martin Joseph, announced that the government was considering giving soldiers powers of arrest after hiring a retired judge, Ulric Cross, to review the Defence Bill and provide recommendations on it. Why is there a change of policy now that the PNM is in opposition?
Can Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, who was a senior Cabinet minister at the time, provide us with the contents of the recommendations?
Secondly, the former administration made joint police/army patrols the norm. In fact, it created ongoing cooperation between the army and police under the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT).
It must be added that this unit was not regulated by any Act of Parliament. Why wasn’t there any concern over soldiers being trained to kill then?
Why wasn’t there any concern over abuse of power by soldiers, especially as there were no laws to regulate this unit?
The amendment Bill as presented in Parliament contains a two-year sunset clause. I believe that this is a good decision in case the plan to give police powers of arrest doesn’t have the desired effect.
The Opposition has failed in its duty to TT. The arguments provided reek of political hypocrisy and I must say I expected more from Rowley.
The question is simple: Will the addition of soldiers to supplement the Police Service assist in fighting crime? If yes, let’s find a way to make it work.