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1,355 died under Dillon—Charles

Published: 
Saturday, June 23, 2018
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, second from right, among protestors who gathered outside the Parliament building in Port-of-Spain, calling for the resignation of the National Security Minister over the spiralling murder rate, yesterday.

Under the tenure of National Security Minister Edmund Dillon, 1,355 people have been murdered from 2015 to date and Dillon needs to offer his resignation now—or be removed says United National Congress MP Rodney Charles.

And some of the relatives of murder victims showed up outside the Parliament yesterday—along with a crowd of other protesters—to add their voices to the Opposition’s calls for Dillon to step aside or be removed. (See editorial on Page A14)

“My son, Keon Sylvester died one month ago,” Jacqueline Sylvester-Rodriguez said outside Parliament.

“I’m unable to eat, sleep or afford a funeral home. But no-one’s been held regarding his murder! And every day I see more! I’m hurting! I’m like all mothers who’re experiencing this and there are many like me - I’ve lost all confidence in National Security.”

She addressed her cries to Dillon, who had come outside the Parliament to see a handful of People’s National Movement supporters near the crowd. He was urged to hear protesters who Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi had stopped to listen to. (C BX).

Inside the Parliament, UNC’s Charles, in an impassioned delivery of a motion of no confidence against Dillon, reeled off the names of 14 murder victims from his Naparima constituency. He noted 61 murders in May alone - a historic high - and the murders of 50 women who had sought protection orders.

“The Minister has failed women who need protection in T&T,” Charles said.

“Our borders are porous, the Coast Guard is being called the ‘Ghost Guard’—you can’t see them. So we’ve also lost our country, every third woman in T&T is Spanish, everywhere in San Fernando you hearing Spanish.”

Over 2016-2017 Charles said, 1,062 men and 118 women were killed. Some 68 per cent of murders were in the age group 16 to 45 years - the most productive years, with 30 per cent alone in the age group 25 to 35 years. Murders since 2016 also include almost 70 foreigners from Chinese to Guyanese and others, he said.

“People in T&T have been strangled, throats slit, beaten to death, chopped, burnt, stabbed - and 74 per cent shot. The more guns the police seize, the more murders have been committed,” Charles added.

He said murders have been highest in the Northern, Central and Southern Divisions.

“Dillon said in Parliament he was unaware of Port-of-Spain gang wars. The (promised) Enterprise police station hasn’t been built,” he added, saying murders have cost T&T $10-$15 billion in lost productivity as well as tourism business.

Up to now, he added, nobody also knows if the Carnival disruption plot was real.

“Criminals can kill because they know they won’t be caught. If a National Security Minister is unable to bridge the gaps in security, it’s your patriotic duty to resign,” Charles added, calling on the Prime Minister to remove Dillon if he didn’t quit.

Emotional protest outside House

“How long again?”

These were among cries from a crowd of protesters who yesterday called for National Security Minister Edmund Dillon’s resignation outside Parliament.

Kevin Sylvester, brother of murder victim Keon Sylvester, of Diego Martin, said, “My brother was a taxi driver making a trip when he was killed. I’m not a political person but we need to stand up in T&T for all who can’t stand up on this situation.”

Marvin Daniel said his relative Wilton France, of Laventille, was also killed while working a taxi.

“But why they can’t hold anybody for this yet?” he too asked.

Jenny Nicholas, who said she’d lost relatives to crime, said it was time for Dillon to resign.

“He’s failed us miserably, we didn’t come here today to represent any party, we came to tell the country we’re crying too much blood every day - every day it’s a murder. We’re scared to go outside to do anything, even work—it’s time for this to stop!” Nicholas added emotionally.

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