Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP. (Image courtesy Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago)

Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP, has slammed the Rowley Administration for what she says is its continued inability to fix issues in the national security and criminal justice systems.

According to the Opposition Leader, this failure continues to put the lives at citizens in this country at serious risk, even as the Government tries to “politicise the issue of crime-fighting”.

Mrs Persad-Bissessar launched the salvos in a sternly worded statement, issued this morning.

The full text of the statement follows…

Opposition Leader: Government continues to fail to protect the people of our nation

Government’s continued failure to fix problems in the administration of National Security and the Criminal Justice System poses a clear and present danger to the safety and security of the people of Trinidad and Tobago:

Instead of fixing the problems in National Security and the Criminal Justice System, the Rowley regime is now disgustingly attempting to politicise the issue of crime-fighting.

It is appalling and unacceptable that their failures continue to pose a clear and present danger to the safety and security of all law-abiding persons of T&T.

They continue to play politics on critical national security and criminal justice issues instead of fixing the problems in the administration of National Security and the Criminal Justice System.

1)         The Rowley regime continues to resort to politicking on the crime issue whilst our nation prays for, amongst other things:

            a)         The safe return of young Andrea Bharatt

            b)         The safety and protection from criminals of terrified law-abiding citizens

            c)         Justice for the many crime victims

2)         Attorney General Faris Al Rawi chose to engage in a pathetic attempt at distraction by bringing up the Bail Bill/law.

3)         Note—When our nation needs to unite and pray for this young citizen and others, we reject the Attorney General’s misguided and misplaced utterances.

            a)         The time for discussing the Bail Bill/law was in Parliament where the Government and Opposition ventilated their views. 

            b)         The Bail Bill/law is but just one, if not the last, stop of defence.

            c)         The Bail Bill/Law was in place before but did not stem the avalanche of crime nor protected the many crime victims.

            d)         The Bail Bill/Law does not prevent crimes as same only kicks in AFTER a crime is perpetrated.

4)         As I have repeatedly said and provided evidence to show, the Rowley regime has failed to resource our protective services adequately.

The Prime Minister, Attorney General Faris Al Rawi and National Security Minister Stuart Young must explain why their Government has money to approve contracts to pay millions to the family of AG Faris and Minister of National Security Young. Yet, they cannot find money to adequately resource the protective services to carry out their duty better to protect and serve.

5)         Further, it is essential to focus on our detection and prosecution rates in the criminal justice system because these rates are abysmally low. We must ensure that those who seek to commit evil acts against our women and all citizens cannot hide in society. 

6)         The Rowley regime’s continued failure to fix the criminal justice problems in which people can be charged multiple times with no convictions is another example of their failure. They are now disgustingly attempting to politicise the issue. As citizens, we must demand that the time between a charge and conviction is faster because that is how victims of crime get justice.

7)         Now is not a time for any cheap political points but a time where the Rowley regime should be offering their full support to the protective services to help find Andrea.

8)         The only discussion we need to hammer out here is how do we protect our young girls and all citizens from those who prey on them.

9)         Another critical issue to consider as a nation is legislating and legalising pepper spray and other non-lethal devices for women and others to protect themselves from criminals.

            a)         Since 2017, I have been calling for the Government to allow women and others to legally use non-lethal devices such as pepper spray and tasers to defend themselves.

            b)         It is time the Government take the necessary steps to move this forward. It has been close to two years since National Security Minister Stuart Young said the matter was under “careful review”, and in that time more women have fallen victims to vicious criminals. The time to act is now.

            c)         I call on the Government to publicly identify and name their “security experts” who have advised against using pepper spray and other non-lethal devices for vulnerable persons, particularly women, to defend themselves against possible criminal attacks.

            d)         I further call on Government to state the cost of these legal advisers who are against pepper spray and other non-lethal devices for use against would-be criminals.

It is clear that the Rowley regime has continued to fail to protect the people of our nation. 

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Opposition Leader of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago