Rowley Disappoints Persad-Bissessar

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By Prior Beharry

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says she is disappointed in Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley for not agreeing to meet with her and political leader of the National Transformation Alliance and former police commissioner Gary Griffith.

She told Dr Rowley they must put aside vanity and egotism since too many lives have been lost due to the high crime rate in Trinidad and Tobago.

In a release on Thursday, she said, “Respectfully, I am disappointed that Keith Rowley has flatly refused to collaborate with me, the UNC and the former COP Gary Griffith to reduce the violent crime crisis plaguing our

“Ideally, this could have been an opportunity to merge state policy and operational knowhow in the crime fight.”

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday Dr Rowley said , “As chairman of the National Security Council of Trinidad and Tobago, I have very good reasons not to meet with Gary Griffith under any circumstances.”

He added, “And in so far as meeting with the Opposition is concerned, I meet with them all the time in this Chamber, in front of you Madam Speaker and they have obstructed every single attempt we had to fight crime in this country.

“In the event that the Opposition intends to change its course and support the Government in crime fighting as this country’s Opposition in this Chamber and out of this Chamber the Government always stand ready so to do.”

In her release, Persad-Bissessar said, “Crime does not discriminate. The victims and perpetrators of crime span all political affiliations, ethnicities, religions, social standings, and income levels.

“No matter which sector of society we identify with, we must have the humility to accept this fact, put aside emotions and work together for all our citizens.

“All citizens must equally feel safe in Trinidad and Tobago. The current crime crisis demands that all leaders in our country exercise humility and prudence to protect our citizens.

“Therefore, I again request that Keith Rowley reconsider his refusal to the offers of cooperation from the UNC and all other interested and willing stakeholders in our country to address this crime crisis.

“We must show the criminal element in our nation that we are determined to arrest the crime problem and are united in the effort to protect our citizens.”

She stated some facts about our current crime crisis are:

• Last year a record 605 murders occurred and the murder rate this year has surpassed
last year’s.
• Extortion of businesses by both criminals and corrupt members of the police service
is on a dramatic increase.
• Multiple murders are being committed in public spaces in daylight, with criminals
seemingly acting with impunity.
• There is an alarming number of home invasions, whereby criminals now feel
emboldened to brazenly enter homes at any hour without fear.
• As Opposition Leader, I met with the Prime Minister on two occasions previously
to discuss a bilateral approach to dealing with this issue.
• Multiple proposals were put forward by the UNC, but Keith Rowley refused to
consider these proposals.
• Since August 2020, in the 12th republican parliament the following anti-crime bills
supported by the opposition:
1. The Summary Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2021
2. The Sexual Offences (Amendment)(No.2) Bill, 2021
3. Firearms (Amendment) Bill, 2021
4. The Electronic Payments into and out of Court (Amendment) Bill, 2021
5. The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Amendment) Bill, 2021
6. The Anti-Gang Bill, 2021
7. The Evidence (Amendment) Bill, 2020
8. The Miscellaneous Provisions (Special Reserve Police and Police
Complaints Authority) Bill, 2020
9. The Miscellaneous Provisions (Administration of Justice) Bill, 2020
The unprecedented level of criminality requires a multi-faceted and cooperative approach which
draws on expertise from all sectors of society.
The UNC has presented a comprehensive plan to address the root causes of crime and implement
short, medium and long-term solutions.
Some plans are for:
• Increased investment in education
• Job creation
• Social programmes
• Rehabilitation policies and plans for prisoners
• Bail reform
• Updated law enforcement training
• Adjustments to ministerial portfolios
• Scientific improvements in training, investigations, and data analysis for crime
• New legislation such as stand your ground and home invasion laws
• Increased access to legal firearms for citizens

Persad-Bissessar said, “The people of Trinidad and Tobago deserve to live in a safe and secure environment, and not in a state of constant fear and uncertainty. We must set aside vanity and egotism, too many lives are being lost and destroyed. We must work together.”


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