Fully-geared riot police were out and nurses’ protests were loud outside the Parliament yesterday.
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Drayton: Griffith disrespectful
Independent Senator Helen Drayton yesterday called National Security Minister Gary Griffith “disrespectful” for his response to a letter to a newspaper from retired Major Gen Ralph Brown, in which Brown said the patrols by soldiers in Laventille were illegal. During her contribution to the Miscellaneous Provisions (Prisons) Bill yesterday, Drayton scolded Griffith, saying as a junior to the retired Brown, Griffith was “out of place” and “out of sync with the public reality.”
Griffith resigned from the Regiment at the rank of captain. In a newspaper report on Monday, Griffith criticised Brown, saying the retired general had a problem with understanding the difference between an operation and an independent patrol. Griffith was quoted as saying: “Thankfully, he does not hold any position of authority because if he did, then he would have turned this situation into one big mess.”
Drayton, who read excerpts from Brown’s letter, told Griffith: “With all due respect, sir, if you did say that, you were highly disrespectful of a retired senior of the Defence Force, who came to the rescue of this country in 1990 during the attempted coup, and who has served this country with courage, dignity and humility, a humility that is lacking in the Ministry of National Security. “There was no need to attack the integrity of this retired and honoured soldier, more so when he was right in his statement.”
Drayton said the issue was not whether soldiers were operating with police as they had done that for years. “It is not an issue of whether Laventille is sleeping more peacefully with the soldiers there. It is an issue of are they operating illegally or legally? That is the issue.” Drayton said it was an indictment on the criminal justice system, when civilians are afraid to lodge complaints with the official authorities and felt they must do so first through the media. So the Minister of National Security should take note, she said.
“It should send them a message that in fact the Ministry of National Security is missing in action and that is why soldiers were operating independently of police outside of a proper legal framework,” she added.
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