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New plan coming to help lawless minors

Published: 
Thursday, January 28, 2016
A member of the public makes a point during the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government public consultation at the Sangre Grande Guaico Government Secondary School on Wednesday. PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES

New legislation is being prepared to assist minors charged with crimes in the country.

Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Stuart Young said during Wednesday’s public consultations on local government reform at Guaico Government Secondary School, Sangre Grande. 

He was responding to a question on the issue of restorative justice within the Ministry of Local Government.

Young said that did not fall within the local government portfolio and the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs was working on a suite of legislation to deal with children.

He said: “As part of that process we are going to have something revolutionary called peer testing/assessment.

“With respect to minors they (will) actually have the opportunity, if they have been charged with a crime (offence) and they admit to it, to then present themselves to their peers—a group of trained peers—to discuss what will be meted out to them (sanctions).

“We are hoping that would be the first step towards the type of restorative justice you are talking about.”

Rural Development and Local Government Minister Franklin Khan, who also addressed the consultation, said there may be a reduction of the number of regional corporations. There are currently 14 corporations across Trinidad while the Tobago House of Assembly is in charge of the affairs on that island.

Among those who were present among the hundreds of people from the region were Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis, MPs for Toco/Sangre Grande and Cumuto/Manzanilla Glenda Jennings-Smith and Christine Newallo-Hosein. 

Khan said the Ministry of Local Government was being disbanded because it was not about local government. He said under the existing arrangement every act to be taken by the corporations must get the approval of the Minister of Local Government.

He said he was “fed up” with the amount of requests he gets from corporations daily to do simple things. 

Khan said he frequently asked the permanent secretary in the ministry if he had to approve those things. He said she told him yes based on the existing law.

However, Khan said he did not want to approve those things anymore. He said those requests for approval should be in the hands of the mayor and chairman of the respective corporations across Trinidad.

He said the new powers would be given to all corporations and not just those controlled by the People’s National Movement.

Khan said the local government corporations will be accountable to the Minister of Finance and the Auditor General under the proposed system.

He said the existing local government administrative structure was sluggish, adding local government was very unproductive under the existing arrangement. He urged the audience to say if the proposal was foolishness if they felt it was. The minister said the new system would give the corporation executive authority. Many of the concerns raised by residents related to existing problems within the local government system.