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Dumas: Extra security for ministers now critical
Former Public Service head Reginald Dumas says careful consideration needs to be paid to the security of all Government ministers, their spouses and children.
His comment comes following the recent robbery of Adrian Colm Imbert. Noting that it was only a matter of time before the tentacles of crime reached the Cabinet, Dumas said he is concerned this could spawn a new wave of crimes specifically targeting office holders and their families.
Dumas said, “I can see people already, certain people keeping an eye on certain ministers and their families to see what could possibly be done.”
He was unable to say if all Cabinet ministers were currently provided with a security detail, but said it was a normal occurrence in the Public Service 30 years ago.“It was not necessarily a big thing that you had
people following in unmarked cars because the security situation was not by any means back then as it is today,” Dumas said, noting that the evolving crime situation should have led to increased security arrangements for all Government ministers and their immediate families.
“If the minister is performing a public function, it is a minister of the Government and the spouse naturally has to be included in that. You can’t say the minister is performing a public function and the husband or wife is something else.”
Asked if a minister should be made to personally foot the security bill for his/her spouse and children, Dumas reiterated, “I am not sure the minister should be asked to pay for that because the minister is part of a national government and their spouse and children are part of the household.”
Dumas’ sentiments were echoed by criminologist Ian Ramdhanie, who said, “It was certainly just a matter of time before such crimes reached the families of Government ministers and other well-positioned persons in society. Soon all will know that no one is spared from the ruthless behaviour of criminals.”
Commenting on the July 6 robbery of Imbert, which occurred in Laventille, both Dumas and Ramdhanie believed it was nothing more than a random act as the perpetrators were ignorant of the victim’s identity.
Imbert was robbed of his cell phone and cash by two men after he began experiencing mechanical difficulties with his truck and had to stop.
Ramdhanie, who is also the Academic Head of the Caribbean Institute for Security and Public Safety, said T&T is a geographically small society in which it was almost impossible for persons and families not to become victims of crimes.
He added, “This recent incident clearly shows that senior government members are not left out of this loop.”
Claims that a sting operation was carried out by the TTPS to retrieve Imbert’s cellphone have been denied by his father, Finance Minister Colm Imbert.
Unaware if this was true, Dumas still defended this, saying, “This is a son of a very senior minister and someone who acts as Prime Minister when Dr Keith Rowley is away. It may well be that these people did not know who the person was when they took that cell phone, but because of the relationship between these two people, that cellphone could have a lot of very important information in it that could be of great benefit and use to anyone who wants to make mischief.”
Acknowledging the public outrage over the swift action taken to recover the cellphone, Dumas said although it appeared to be a case of some being more equal than others the move was understandable and necessary in the circumstances.
Former National Security Minister Jack Warner confirmed that while it was not normal for security to be provided to all members of Cabinet, special circumstances had led to some members of the previous administration being assigned a detail. Among them was former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, former Local Government Minister Chandresh Sharma and former Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal.
He said, “This was because they had received death threats and so on.”
Warner said the People’s Partnership had provided 24-hour security at the homes of certain ministers through soldiers.
The highest office holders - namely the President, Prime Minister, Attorney General and Chief Justice are the only State officials who are usually assigned a 24-hour security detail.
Asked if he believed the spouses and children of Cabinet ministers should be provided with security, Warner said, “Absolutely not, I don’t think they have the right to get a security detail. They should be treated as any other citizen of the country.”
Also contacted on whether Cabinet ministers are afforded personal protection, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi declined to reveal specifics.
However, he said, “Security is in general provided on the basis of threat assessments conducted by the State apparatus. It isn’t a matter that any and everybody is afforded security, that’s not the case.”
Al-Rawi said this principle also applied to persons employed in the judiciary, including judges, state prosecutors and magistrates, as well as state witnesses.
He added, “This is not something which is confined just to politicians or members of government. This is the manner in which it is addressed in general.”
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