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Rowley wants committee to help fight crime
Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley is renewing his call for the Government to establish a parliamentary committee to oversee and assist the Government in the fight against crime. He made the call during a news conference at his office, Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. Rowley said with a record number of murders in the first two weeks of 2014, it was clear the Government was unable to deal with the spate. He said the Opposition suggested to the Government in crime talks previously that a parliamentary committee should be set up to work together and assist in a meaningful way to deal with the crime problem. “We have put proposals to the Government to put in place a parliamentary committee where we can deal with these matters in the Parliament working together,” he added. Rowley said the committee would be responsible for overseeing crime, security and crime suppression.
He also said the Opposition was rejecting a call from National Security Minister Gary Griffith to meet to discuss the issue. The Opposition was not accepting any responsibility for the spate of murders, he said, after Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said the Opposition’s lack of support for crime legislation was preventing the Government’s legislative fight against criminals.
In an interview on CNC3’s Morning Brew yesterday, Ramlogan claimed the PNM had sent a message to the underworld to continue to create crime chaos to make the Government look bad. But Rowley rubbished this claim. “This pappyshowing —and with the Attorney General accusing us of crimes and the National Security Minister wanting to meet with the Opposition — we’re not taking part in that pappyshow,” he said. At a meeting with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last year on the crime issue, he said: “We get brushed aside,” and subsequent crime deliberations with Ramlogan were no more successful. Rowley said the country could expect no improvement in crime as long as the AG remained in Cabinet.
He also said the Police Service Commission (PSC) was not to take any blame for the non-appointment of a Commissioner of Police. Rowley said no new commissioner could be appointed until the Government took steps to ensure the position was advertised as required by law. He was not sure that any advertisements had been placed since former commissioner Dwayne Gibbs left in 2012. He said the Opposition was prepared to amend the process for appointing a Commissioner of Police but the Government was not interested in having one appointed. The PNM leader said the Opposition supported calls for the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) to be strengthened to allow it to independently investigate and prosecute rogue police. He dismissed Ramlogan’s claim that such a measure was intended to undermine the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Rowley said giving the PCA increased powers would make it an “effective watchdog on rogue police officers.” He repeated a call for a manpower audit of the Police Service, saying only after that could measures be put in place to ensure the best was achieved from officers. The Opposition Leader said the Government has also not heeded a call from the PNM to amend legislation or make new laws to make witness-tampering a serious offence with serious penalties. On the issue of the death penalty, Rowley said if the so-called hanging bill was brought back to Parliament by the Government, the Opposition would vote against it again.