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Failure of Parliament Committee on national security

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Parliament should be ashamed of the functioning of its Joint Parliament Committee on National Security that was established on November 13, 2015—more than three months now.

Given the unacceptably high murder rate—probably over 70 bodies by now, what has this Committee done thus far to assist the population which they represent? 

We, the members of the public, really hoped that Parliament, the place where our representatives sit to represent us, would have dealt with this issue of crime and public safety more seriously. They should have been meeting weekly and demanding answers and action as they are empowered to do. 

Let us take a quick look at their powerful terms of reference. They have the “duty of considering, from time to time, and reporting whenever necessary, on all matters of national security policy of Trinidad and Tobago.” 

This is a powerful responsibility here. Can they inform us on what they considered thus far with regard to murders? Let us assume that they cannot deal with everything at one time and so soon. But murders have been strikingly high. What did they report to the rest of Parliament and by extension the public? Nada.

In addition, this powerful committee is authorised to examine three other areas and report on. These are:

a. security, safety and the protection of citizens;

b. working relationships between various agencies involved in intelligence-gathering and how they collect, co-ordinate, analyse and disseminate information and how these functions might be enhanced;

c. mechanisms to review the performance and activities of the various agencies involved in national security and critical infrastructure.

What did they do on any of the above over three months while human beings are slaughtered? Does Parliament set up these committees for kicks? Do citizens really expect them to work?

There are eight members on this committee; 5 PNM, 1 Independent, 1 UNC and 1 COP. It is chaired by PNM’s Fitzgerald Hinds. Can the non-PNM members come out and tell the public what have been going on in this seemingly dead committee? We continue to look on with increasing pessimism.

Rick King


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