Last update: 05-Dec-2013 12:18 pm
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Rowley on gang suspects’ release: Blind policing
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has described the arrests and eventual release of suspected gang leaders and members from east Port-of-Spain as “blind policing.” He added: “Is only a blind police service that would go and pick up a man you held the last time when you have no new or additional evidence.” Rowley made the comment prior to a walkabout in Maracas/St Joseph yesterday.
His comments came a day after police released the majority of suspects who were arrested following the weekend raid in east Port-of-Spain after an upsurge in murders in the area last week. Some of the suspects held had also been charged under the Anti-Gang Act during state of emergency in 2011 and were later released. They were arrested this time under the same legislation but were released after police admitted they did not have enough evidence to lay charges.
Police said yesterday, however, that the suspects may be re-arrested once additional evidence was gathered. Speaking about the issue yesterday, Rowley said: “This worries me because it means that we made no progress with respect to crime detection or gathering information to be used as evidence.” He accused the Government of dismantling key national security programmes used by law enforcement agencies to gather information and evidence.
“What this Government stands guilty of is dismantling the information-gathering systems in the country and the Police Service is now virtually blind,” Rowley said. When asked about his scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar tomorrow, Rowley said he expected it to be “useful.”
Persad-Bissessar is also expected to meet with residents of east Port-of-Spain today for a second time since last week’s murder spree, which saw six residents being murdered in less than 24 hours. The meeting is scheduled for 1 pm at the South East Government Secondary School, Port-of-Spain. “I think by now, the PM would have come to the conclusion that things have not been working well and there are very serious deficiencies,” Rowley said.
He said discussions would include finding solutions for problems being experienced by national security agencies. “We have to look and see why they (the agencies) have been failing and a lot of the answers are quite visible and speak very loudly. We need to pay attention to that,” Rowley said. He said his discussions with Persad-Bissessar would not only focus on crime in east Port-of-Spain but instead for the entire country.
He added: “There are people in my constituency who feel just as unsafe because we are not subjects of effective policing. “There is a general breakdown of law and order. There is disfunctionality on the level of the Government and there is a kind of hopelessness that is strengthening and emboldening those preying on the population.”
When asked about Persad-Bissessar’s announcement of a reintroduction of legislation pertaining to death penalty as an anti-crime measure, Rowley dismissed that as “public relations gimmickry. “There is nothing now preventing the Government from proceeding to carry out the death penalty in the context of the law we have and the dictates laid down by our final court of appeal — Privy Council,” he said.
Rowley said the Government should not focus only on the death penalty but rather crime detection. “I don’t know why every time there is an explosion in crime in the country the Government trots out the death penalty. It is not death penalty that is the problem, it is security and law and order and it starts with an effective Police Service,” he added.
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