The citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are unequivocally correct in requesting cooperation from their elected representatives to stem the violent crime crisis.
Therefore, I reaffirm my commitment to leading a team on behalf of the UNC to attend the anti-crime talks to explain our multidisciplinary approach to the Government on combatting the violent crime crisis.
On November 20, 2023, at a press conference, Keith Rowley falsely stated that the UNC put forward a “deal breaker” that there would be no anti-crime talks if former Police Commissioner Gary Griffith were not present.
I wish to correct this untruth and remind the country that I had indicated for an invitation to be extended to all willing stakeholders to participate in the anti-crime talks. Over a month ago, on October 14, 2023, I wrote to the Prime Minister to clarify several key points concerning the proposed bipartisan crime talks. To date, there has been no response.
Many citizens have called for the Government and Opposition to work together to start these anti-crime talks. I absolutely agree with their calls, as this is a time for humility and cooperation and not arrogance. One thing we must have in common is our love for the people and our country.
Mr Griffith has no criminal charges against him and is exceptionally qualified to contribute to these talks. However, it is clear that the presence of Mr. Griffth causes anguish to the Prime Minister and is the reason for his refusal to attend.
Therefore, after consultation with Mr Griffith, he has selflessly put his inclusion on the Opposition team on hold as he did not want to be scapegoated as a reason for these talks to be scuttled.
Hopefully, Mr. Griffith’s non-attendance will assuage the fears and insecurities of the Prime Minister, who will now reconsider his refusal to attend the proposed crime talks. As leaders, we owe it to the people, our supporters who elected us into office to take Trinidad and Tobago forward safely.
I urge the Prime Minister to:
1. Invite all willing stakeholders to the anti-crime talks to contribute.
2. Broaden the topics to be discussed at the meetings beyond legislation only.
3. Invite experts and professionals from various sectors to advise parliamentarians on creating a holistic approach.
4. Implement the numerous plans, policies, and programs the UNC has presented.
5. Desist from using these anti-crime talks as political propaganda.
6. Lead a credible team to represent the Government at these talks.
As leaders, we cannot take intractable stances on these talks while violent criminals terrorize our beloved citizens. I reiterate that the UNC is willing, ready, and able to work with the Government to combat the violent crime crisis destroying the lives of citizens.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition
27th November 2023