Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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PM lays Coup enquiry report in Parliament
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has waived the confidentiality originally imposed on one chapter of the Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the 1990 attempted coup. In Parliament yesterday, she announced, “The report contains four volumes and chapter 12, contained in volume 4, was deemed confidential and we respect the commission for this.
“But after due deliberation at the National Security Commission, the Government agreed that we would waive confidentiality and place the entire report in the public domain. We did not want the report to be shadowed. There is nothing to hide.” She congratulated all the commissioners on all their work. The report was commissioned by the People’s Partnership Government in 2010 and was presented to President Anthony Carmona at his St Ann’s office the previous day by chairman of the commission Sir David Simmons QC.
The Prime Minister said the report was important for the country as it sought to provide “valuable answers” coming out of that coup attempt. “The report refers to sitting MPs being victims of unspeakable indignities, of the wanton acts of destruction of our venerable parliamentary chamber in the historic Red House. It reminds us that our Honourable Prime Minister at the time, Mr ANR Robinson, and his Minister of National Security, Mr Selwyn Richardson, were singled out, badly beaten and then shot in their legs,” she said.
She said she was saddened at the downturn in health of Robinson, also a former President, and whom she had briefly visited yesterday as he was currently hospitalised. “The visit was brief, given the prevailing circumstances, but I wanted to convey to His Excellency the fact that the commission of enquiry, which he deeply urged I should establish, had completed its monumental task and had presented its report to the President.
“Mr Robinson called for this report for so many years and strongly urged that any government I should lead should set up a commission of enquiry. He was central to the events that unfolded when insurgents stormed the Parliament on that fateful evening of July 27, 1990,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar read out to Parliament a number of the report’s recommendations. She said there was a problem with intelligence-gathering and intelligence-sharing by the relevant agencies, as the report had found. She also said the sharing of information was a factor that affected the law-enforcement agencies’ being prepared, quoting the report as saying intelligence-gathering “was loose and haphazard.”
Persad-Bissessar spoke about the “interesting discovery” by the commission of the “kneejerk decision” to establish the Special Anti-Crime Unit (SAUTT). “SAUTT,” she read from the report, “was not an organisation that was welcomed by most arms of the security structure, because it was seen to be doing things that other people were already doing and there was a perceived duplication of effort.” She said what SAUTT failed to do the National Operations Centre is doing now, since it was set up by this Government.