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The real issues with our crime “plan”: Daly says politicians too busy supping with the devil

The respective teams led by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition met two Fridays ago on violent crime.

The main promise afterward was that there would be co-operation on anti crime legislation, including the Government giving the Opposition early notice of the Bills it intended to introduce and facilitating discussion to find out from the Opposition any area of concern about the contents of a Bill. There was talk of greater use of a Joint Select Committee.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (right) and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC. (Copyright Stabroek News)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (right) and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC.
(Copyright Stabroek News)

The population was skeptical that legislative co-operation may make a dent in crime.

“We have so much legislation already but it is not enforced.”  “The police don’t hold anybody.”

These were two common expressions of the skepticism that legislative co-operation would bring down violent crime in an environment where if one citizen has a dispute with another he can then shoot, stab or chop the other to death and walk away with complete impunity.

This column long ago identified the impunity factor as a major incentive to the perpetration of violent crime. I am amused to see that some persons living nice within the establishment have suddenly found their voice on this subject.

A second output of the joint talks was the ritual reference to the death penalty still being “the law of the land”. I say the reference is ritual because the death penalty cannot be carried out currently for reasons that have been repeatedly identified in these columns.

There are at least four such columns, entitled respectively The Fallacy of the Death Penalty, Remedies for a Murderous Land, Death Penalty Advice and Death Penalty Hindrances, laying out in detail the blocks to enforcement of the death penalty and submitting that only a constitutional amendment requiring a vote of three quarters of the members of each of the two Houses of Parliament can remove those blocks.

Photo: A court gavel and miniature statute of Lady Justice.
Photo: A court gavel and miniature statute of Lady Justice.

The following words of the Privy Council, per Lord Nicholls, indicate that nothing short of a constitutional amendment can revive the death penalty for implementation:

“If the requisite legislative support for a change in the constitution is forthcoming, a deliberate departure from fundamental human rights may be made, profoundly regrettable although this may be. That is the prerogative of the legislature.

“If departure from fundamental human rights is desired, that is the way it should be done. The constitution should be amended explicitly.”

Of course having a death penalty is pointless if the police cannot catch the killers and have them successfully prosecuted. Part of this failure is a lack of discipline in the police service permitting the maintenance of bad egg networks within the service.

A long time ago there was extensive delegation of disciplinary control from the Police Service Commission to the Police Service itself. Nevertheless we have been completely unable, despite this positive step, to restructure the organisation and to compel it to use the disciplinary powers it has.

Photo: Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams. (Copyright 103FM)
Photo: Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams.
(Copyright 103FM)

A Minister of National Security cannot possibly go into the field and “fix” the crime problem. His function—on his own initiative and in conjunction with other Ministries and critical stakeholders, like the Judiciary—is to provide policies and recommend legislation that address the structural deficiencies in the system by which we investigate crime and administer criminal justice.

For over 15 years we have been playing around with legislation to get rid of preliminary inquiries that clog up the courts and we are talking this talk yet again. However has the Judiciary identified or been asked which of its judicial complement and what resources will be made available to carry out the sufficiency hearings?

These hearings will be a lynchpin of the system after the abolition of preliminary inquiries. For almost as long we have been trying to make effective use of DNA.

Then there are fundamental macro questions: How do we manage and make accountable those who wield the coercive power of the State and its largesse and concomitantly expose and destroy the questionable interlocking relationships with contractors, suppliers financiers and relatives?

How do we ensure that policemen—if properly trained, equipped and disciplined—will able to penetrate the elite reaches of criminal enterprise in our murderous land?

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (left) and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC. (Copyright Power102fm)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (left) and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC.
(Copyright Power102fm)

There has been a persistent lack of awareness that any “plan” to deal with violent crime must address the structural deficiencies of our governance and justice system. These deficiencies reveal a lack of will to trouble the big fish. Lucrative supping with the devil goes on in this place.

These deficiencies, along with grievous socio-economic imbalances, have negatively influenced the development of political and cultural norms that would support a relatively just, honest and ordered society. The deficiencies have taken us in the opposite direction.

There is a range of criminal and anti-social acts, which ordinary citizens feel justified in doing when they can’t be caught or because others are getting away with it.

When there will be co-operative action on the real issues that facilitate violent crime?

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation, a board member of The Little Carib Theatre and Folkhouse and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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40 comments

  1. When will we break from this loop…

    • Taken from DJ Sheriff fb page, he also listed all the names. If these figures are not concerning to us, and months after my initial comment, there is still no public outcry or demand for tangible efforts on crime and the economy, I agree, a nation gets the government it deserves.

  2. This is one of the realest statement from a politician or someone in authority

  3. Real talk. Deals with the devil. All politicians are the same…. Well said Mr Daly….

  4. Again crime is a plague that affects everyone, no one can predict when it will happen or in some cases why… The issue is the solving of the acts… Detection is highly unlikely in most cases… The powers that be can only arm and create stratagems to help in the fight but it takes assistance from everyone from the community in which the crime happens as well as the law enforcement and government… It’s not a One person responsibility it’s everyone’s… So it’s easy for us to sit and blame others when we honestly don’t do our part…. We expect instant solutions to a problem that has and will always exist… No one can eradicate crime all they can do is try to fight and Minimize the effects of it

  5. So why it is we have a police service not to keep law and order since they have air condition in the station you hardly seeing them outside patrolling

  6. There are some people who have done so many crimes so that they should not now be trying to enforce rules on how crime should be tackled.

  7. I am not hearing or seeing anything positive from this promise. Citizens eagerly await positive behaviours from our leaders so that management of crime will be a reality. Bandits have imposed serious restrictions on law abiding citizens. These ‘window dressing activities by Government and Opposition (They are the Government You Know) is not bearing fruit- the flowers are dropping man. Trinidad lets move on. Blessings.

  8. CRIME is a profitable business in the Ministry of National Security. Until you remove the PROFITS derived from Crime, everybody including the politicians on Games.

  9. The illuminati is coming to get him mow… lol

  10. Kamla looks like a carnival “midnight robber” with that hat!

  11. ALL AH DEM IS FAMILY TO WHITE COLLAR CRIMES AND CRIMINALS.THEY NOT GOING TO TOUCH THAT.

  12. Who the cap fit..let them wear it..

  13. Too much ” famalee and frens ” to beg for to get them off when they commit the crimes. If we would leave them to stand the consequences….then you’ll say the police ” wuking.”

  14. Tell it like it is until some heads role west of Port of Spain . We not serious

  15. We still live in a civil society I hope.

  16. Hypocrites .. one minute they are buddies .. the next minute they are enemies … just like their governance .. undecided and spur of the moment decisions and actions .. immature adults that you all look up to

  17. Vernal Damion Cadogan…the murder of four young girls helped precipitate the civil rights movement. How many of our innocent young are being slaughtered daily? I am still waiting on the public outcry.

  18. More like drinking fine wine and eating the best fine cheese with devil. Me thinks if the powers that be, both past and present, address crime then they might end up battling with themselves in the melee

  19. ..There is no individual solution to a culture of crime. The individualized approach is social work. And this has been ongoing for centuries. The truth is as long as the criminals (of all types), the State (and its officials at every level), and politicians ( of all stripes) bed each other (as they do), then talk of a solution to “Crime” is just talk..

  20. Earl Best

    You ask two questions which are at the root of the problem:

    “How do we manage and make accountable those who wield the coercive power of the State and its largesse and concomitantly expose and destroy the questionable interlocking relationships with contractors, suppliers financiers and relatives?

    How do we ensure that policemen—if properly trained, equipped and disciplined—will (be) able to penetrate the elite reaches of criminal enterprise in our murderous land?”

    I have a single question which might provide the beginnings of an answer to your questions: How do we get people who are able to formulate these hugely important questions to be taken seriously by the people who are elected to attempt to answer them?

    The French call that ‘la quadrature du cercle,’ translated, I suppose, as ‘squaring the circle.’

  21. Too much righteous indignation and not enough solutions. The word “crime” is overused as a cute euphemism for murder. Every judge, factory worker, journalist, policeman or nurse in Trinidad personally knows or is related to ten murderers or victims of murder. It is our sociology and only we the people can change it. Generosity and forgiveness is required, for we will each need to sponsor a murderer for a life out of crime. Relocation, new income streams, family responsibilities, cultural pride and brotherhood (not to be confused with church), are all required. We could re-invent ourselves in terms of our original ideals before we got rich.

  22. ..More talk. Crime and politics go hand in hand in Trini. End the talk..

  23. I relly not able reading all that nah, because I am sure that the Ministry of National Security has NEVER had any idea what in fact are the factors influencing crime. How then can crime really be addressed?
    Also the citizenry isn’t knowledgeable enough to understand that crime is the end result of social as well as economic factors, therefore understanding the citizenry’s ignorance no government will ever see the value is engaging in the difficult work of addressing these factors once and for all.
    That’s the reason Kieth and Kamla were able to engage in that bit of political theater the other day that so mamaguy the masses.

  24. supping with the devil? Is that what they call it? 🙂 keeping mouth shut for once.

  25. Nice couple. i wish they’d get together more often. So much to talk about.