You are here
Crime plan will fail unless witnesses get protection
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley says the latest crime plan by the Government—to precept soldiers—will fail if witnesses cannot be protected. He spoke in yesterday’s debate on the Defence (Amendment) Bill, which was presented by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. In his presentation, Ramlogan proposed amendments to the legislation, including a name change to the Miscellaneous Provisions (Defence and Police Complaints) Bill.
Rowley took issue with the way the amendments were presented and asked Speaker Wade Mark if the proceedings were in order. Mark ruled that they were and the debate continued. Rowley later told legislators that no amount of police and soldiers would be able to stop crime if certain other matters were not effectively addressed, and the situation was more likely to get worse if the measure was implemented. He said the criminals were committing crimes today in the hope they would be seen.
Once the criminal was seen committing an offence and was later apprehended, he would let his friends know and “they’ll know who the informant is and you are the next ghost.” Instead of wasting the Parliament’s time on precepting soldiers, he said, it would have been more appropriate to debate measures to protect witnesses. He said certain legislative changes could be approved to prevent criminals from interfering with witnesses.
“Without witnesses, there will be no criminal justice system. We are at that point in T&T where we are without witnesses.” To be a witness in the current situation was “possibly to sign your own death warrant.” He said the law should be changed to make it mandatory for anyone convicted of interfering with a witness to get a serious jail sentence. He said the penalty for interfering with a witness “must be equal or more severe than the crime that you committed.
Until we get to that route, we’re wasting time, Mr Speaker.” Increasing municipal police should also be seriously considered as a crime-fighting measure, he argued. He said the Government was spending hundreds of millions of dollars on an ineffective response to crime and the police service was failing because it lacked “proper investigative skills and tools to go after criminals, detect the crime and hold the perpetrator.”
Until those matters were effectively addressed, “We are not impacting on crime at all.” Rowley said the right people should be hired to do forensic work, and only then the crime problem could be addressed. Corruption in the police service must also be addressed. “We are not effectively dealing with that,” he added.
“We have to concede that the Police Service is not up to the job at this time,” Rowley concluded. He said there were specific things the Commissioner of Police could do to strengthen the service without using soldiers as police.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.