Perhaps the Commissioner got carried away by the usual political rhetoric and meaningless hype of the Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds whose company he seems to gleefully enjoy, but to suggest that I am trying to muzzle him is ridiculous and laughable.
No one is trying to muzzle Mr Jacob. In fact, we have been calling upon him to speak on pertinent issues which fall under his remit. He must however understand that he cannot compromise the independence of his office of Commissioner of Police regardless of his political allegiance.
He has been an abject failure as a Commissioner who has destroyed the good work done by his predecessor. When Commissioner Griffith demitted office, public confidence in the TTPS was on the rise.
Since Mr. Jacob’s appointment however, the public confidence in the police service has waned. Like Hinds, he seems to be burying his head deeper and deeper into the sand whilst trying to convince us that crime is under control. Perhaps he missed the news that a food truck was attacked by gunmen and robbed of $130,000 and when the driver went to the Besson Street Police Station to report the matter more bandits came and stole the rest of food whilst the vehicle was parked in front of the station! Or maybe he didn’t hear the Republic Bank in Couva which is directly opposite the Couva Police Station was robbed by way of a Hollywood-style heist whilst the Police thought construction work was being carried on. Or maybe he has not seen and heard the outcry from citizens over the abuse taking place in children’s home, which the police say they are waiting on the adults in the home to report! The population is looking on, and have their own views as to who is retarded!
People feel as though they are sitting ducks and helplessly look on while murders, home invasions and serious crime are the order of the day whilst the Commissioner is a prop for an even bigger failure by the name of Fitzgerald Hinds. The government is in charge of the legislative agenda for Parliament. It is therefore the government’s responsibility to execute its parliamentary duties and the Opposition to play its role in that process.
Does Mr Jacob not realise how ridiculous it is for Minister Hinds to push for Parliament to deny bail in light of the recent ruling of the Court of Appeal that it is unconstitutional and illegal for Parliament to deny bail?
Chief Justice Ivor Archie in Akili Charles v AG ruled that it is for the Judiciary to decide whether bail should be granted to a defendant and that it will be wrong for Parliament to usurp the role and function of the courts in this regard.
The Privy Council refused to grant a stay of that order and would no doubt rule on the State’s appeal. Unless the Court of Appeal is overturned by the Privy Council, this is the law of the land.
At present therefore, the law in this country is that Parliament cannot pass any law to deny bail. Minister Hinds is a former criminal defence lawyer who defended persons accused of committing crimes and should know better than to invite the Opposition to join hands with the government to breach the Constitution and break the law by enacting legislation which the courts deemed to be illegal and unconstitutional.
As an Attorney, permit me to make my position clear: The Government’s proposal to deny people bail is illegal and hence cannot be supported. This is the law as it stands and any attempt by the Parliament to deny bail is a violation of the separation of powers.
It is therefore painful to see McDonald Jacob sacrifice his independence by reducing himself to being a chorus boy for the Hinds’ political choir when he should know better. His support for a proposal that is unconstitutional and doomed to fail is reckless and irresponsible. He is carted out by Hinds to advertise an initiative they intend to bring and does so without any regard to its merits.
Permit me to remind him of what the Honourable Chief Justice said about such a law:
“It is actually likely to create injustice to accused persons in some instances and, in any event, creates a troubling precedent for interference with judicial powers to solve a problem that, particularly in the case of murder, has not been proven to exist. In summary, section 5 of the Act is not reasonably justifiable in a society that has proper respect for the rights and freedoms of the individual and I so find.”
Fighting crime by denying people their rights is a foolish idea. McDonald Jacob must speak out against the PNM’s failure to have a functioning DNA lab, a proper system for electronic monitoring, to improve the infrastructure in the Magistrates’ Courts, to tackle the backlog in the criminal courts by increasing the compliment of staff in the DPP’s office and giving the Police the resources they need.
The low rate of detection and conviction coupled with no real and meaningful attempt to tackle recidivism through rehabilitation is what is responsible for the crime rate – NOT BAIL.
Mr Jacob must say what are his new crime fighting initiatives to stem the flow of blood. Can he name one new idea or policy that he has introduced that is working?
Furthermore, we would like to hear him and encourage him to speak out on the following matters:
1. The 2019 special branch report into the activities of Minister Cummings, including illegal occupation of land, obtaining state contracts through political influence and gang affiliations;
2. The recent explosive interview carried in the Trinidad Guardian where a citizen seeking asylum says a gang leader with links to a government minister wants to kill him;
3. The sale of Former AG Faris Al Rawi’s Porsche Cayenne luxury SUV to his friend Roger Kawalsingh without transferring the legal registration at the licensing authority;
4. The political conspiracy to remove former Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith involving Bliss Seepersad, and the infamous meeting between the Prime Minister and the President;
5. The investigation into the mysterious cash payment towards Minister Camille Robinson Regis’ mortgage;
6. The alleged attempts to pervert the course of justice by former AG Al Rawi interference with police investigations into former head of TTPS legal unit Christian Chandler and Paula Gopee Scoon’s son Adrian Scoon;
7. The Judith Jones report repeatedly highlighted by Senator Nakhid concerning the sexual abuse of children at state facilities;
8. The conspiracy between Faris Al Rawi and Vincent Nelson QC with respect to the indemnity agreement which the DPP said he had no knowledge of;
9. The sexual harassment matter involving Former Minister Darrell Smith;
10. Corruption in the grant of Firearm User Licenses based on the Stanley John report that Dr Rowley used to get rid of Gary Griffith.
Anti-Gang legislation has been in force since 2011. Mr Jacob must tell us how many convictions he secured using that Act and why gangs have multiplied in spite of the no bail provision in the Anti-Gang Act. If the prosecution starts its case, a gang member can be denied bail for up to one year. To come 11 years later without any empirical data and seek support for similar measures is what I find to be somewhat retarded.
Whilst Commissioner Jacob may have his own ambitions, he must be disciplined enough to respect the independence of the office he holds before rushing to describe the UNC’s position as “retarded” and an attempt to muzzle him. The issue is not whether he should be muzzled but rather, that he should stay in his lane and speak on issues that are relevant to his duties and office.
Jayanti R. Lutchmedial