Last update: 06-Dec-2013 3:33 am
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
Ramlogan insists soldiers must help police fight gangs
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan is insisting that soldiers must be given police powers to assist in the fight against crime. However, he may return to Parliament with an adjustment to the previous legislation he attempted to bring on the matter. Ramlogan made the comment following yesterday’s two-hour crime meeting between the Government and the Opposition at Tower D, Waterfront Complex, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.
He said police powers for soldiers was not raised during yesterday’s meeting but he intended to raise it next week when the parties meet again for more talks on crime.
Responding to questions on the performance of the police in the wake of several homicides in east Port-of-Spain this month, the AG said in situations “when you have open gang warfare and you know that the police need the back-up of the soldiers, we can, by legislation, give the soldiers the additional powers, privileges and immunities that they require to respond with equal force and measure.” Ramlogan added: “You cannot expect them to go in there if you do not give them the legal necessary armour and body cover they will need.”
Asked specifically if he raised that matter in the meeting, Ramlogan said: “This issue has been raised before and it is one that we intend to pursue in the discussions next week. It is one that we have to consider as a nation.” The AG added: “It is clear that the argument soldiers should not be given police powers because they were trained to kill, that argument is ironically perhaps the argument that is best suited as to why you need them.”
He said the gangs were “not just trained to kill but they are killing and you have to have some deterrent in this matter.” He said in addition to all the social measures being implemented by the Government to deal with crime, “there must be some strong forceful response to the exchange of gunfire that can see a 16-year-old girl’s body riddled with 16 bullets on the side of the road.”
Ramlogan said based on available evidence, the police required the support of the army in certain areas to deal with gang violence. He said the proposed legislation would limit the police powers to soldiers for gang-related violence, drug trafficking and gun-related offences. He said soldiers were to be used “as an extreme last resort in situations where the police are out gunned, out manned and they need that kind of reinforcement.”
Contacted after Ramlogan’s comment, however, the Opposition said it was not likely to support that measure, which it described as “a non-event.” Commenting on yesterday’s meeting, Ramlogan said it was a progressive one. He said draft legislation to facilitate the implementation of the death penalty and nullify the Privy Council’s Pratt and Morgan ruling would be presented for the consideration of the Opposition.
He said the partial abolition of trial by jury and a new system for the appointment of the Commissioner of Police and deputy commissions also was discussed. Commenting on behalf of the PNM, Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds said it wanted the Government to make the Caribbean Court of Justice as the country’s final court of appeal.
He said the appointment of a Commissioner of Police, establishment of a special agency for information-gathering and the appointment of 1,400 municipal police could also be done almost immediately.
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.