Murder, murder everywhere but certain elites continued blindly to cling to the status quo and sections of the business community uttered platitudes.
Then, as the murder count soared past 500 with a multiplicity of murders, the Government finally “did” something. That something was a whole day meeting with the heads of law enforcement. Sadly, this meeting seemed nothing more than accountability gymnastics.
The blurb about the meeting, which accompanied the obligatory photo-op, contained a reported “understanding” from the Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds, that “there is public fear and trauma over the ‘crime crisis’ and its implications on tourism, investments and international opinion”.
Hallelujah! He is getting there slowly, and very painfully for us. He had previously been reported in February as stating: “my duty is not to ensure that people feel safe and secure”.
The Minister also reportedly spoke of “the gun crisis” but did he utter one word about what urgent action the Government now intended to take concerning the operations of the ports under its control and through which the guns have been regularly passing?
Those defective port operations are one of the signal failures of the Government, which cannot be excused by the worn-out spin of digging at the police “with whom we cannot interfere” and of “we are about policies”.
That spin was used again last week. It was reported in the Trinidad Express newspaper that Minister Hinds “said that the Government has ‘policy positions’ that it shared with the Top Cop and his team and also inquired what the TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service) needed to enhance their capacity in the crime fight”.
Commentators frequently ask about policy positions and try to be heard above the roar of personal attacks and what one commentator, albeit in a different context, described as “using racially infused aids in the political arena”.
I have frequently lamented there is nothing on offer by way of socio-economic reform, which might build greater equality of opportunity and objective justice, as well as diminish the prevalence of contact and corruption. The Prime Minister now explicitly accepts, as quoted in the Trinidad Newsday on 2 November 2022, that “the murders are the end of all kinds of socio-economic conditions which this Government has been responding to.”
What is the Government’s response? What is the policy to treat with the socio-economic degradation of many communities? What are the “family services” available for at-risk youth, who are reduced to gun fodder, that is a bunch of potential “soldiers” expendable in gang activity?
I ask again why is the Anthony Watkins-led committee’s report on Community Recovery still being kept secret?
That Committee’s appointment was announced when the 2020 General Election was close. The announcement followed a serious incident of community unrest triggered by a police involved killing of three persons in Morvant in July 2020.
Meanwhile my pro-bono client, Thema Williams, finally got paid her damages owed by the Gymnastics Federation, which the Court awarded her in 2018. This was achieved through the public spiritedness of the lawyers who appeared for her in the recent enforcement proceedings at my request.
The Gymnastics Federation again opposed her claim and again failed. The Federation then turned around and made unconvincing statements of admiration for Thema.
The moral bankruptcy of the relationship between Governments and organizations that they fund are a cause for concern. The current Minister of Sport had dismissed Thema’s litigation as a private matter.
Mere days after the Court awarded damages to Thema, the Minister took part in a photo-op presenting cheques totaling TT$899,736.65 to 15 sporting bodies—one being the Gymnastics Federation who had treated Thema with toxic bias.
The Federation, which hurt Thema and angered the country, continued to receive subventions from the government regardless of its established bias and unpaid debt to Thema. Were those subventions used to fund trips abroad for the Federation officials?
In the recent enforcement proceedings, Court made reference to a trip for the Federation’s Vice-President to Turkey scheduled for next month.
Instead of now saying that the Federation loves Thema and trying to look nice, Mr Christopher George, the president, should disclose what trips abroad members of the executive have made on subvention/donor dollars during the four years since the judgment on liability was given.