“[…] Both parties have now dug their heels in, and would regard any compromise on this matter as a sign of weakness and incompetence. They are playing to the gallery.
“Where does the national interest feature in this soap opera? […]”
The following Letter to the Editor on the need for a cross-party approach to violent crime and an upgrade in home invasion laws was submitted to Wired868 by Louis Williams of St Augustine:
The current public spat between the Opposition and the Government on the adequacy or otherwise of the laws on home invasions demonstrates precisely why such an issue ought to have been handled in private discussions between the two parties—behind closed doors, and out of the glare of the news media and the public.
Both parties have now dug their heels in, and would regard any compromise on this matter as a sign of weakness and incompetence. They are playing to the gallery. Where does the national interest feature in this soap opera?
If the parties had simply entered into private discussions on the matter without a prior public disclosure of their respective proposals, the current impasse could possibly have been avoided.
Such private meetings allow parties the opportunity to save face if a particular proposal tabled by one party, on closer examination by both sides, is found to be inadequate, unsuitable and unacceptable. The proposal could then be withdrawn or amended to adequately address the national interest concerns.
In more mature democracies, the opposing sides in the legislature have long recognised that public debates, even in the legislative chamber, can have—for the reasons I have mentioned above—a deleterious effect on the ability of legislators to enact the most appropriate laws, especially when a special majority is required.
To surmount this hurdle, they have resorted to the holding of private meetings as outlined above. This has worked well.
Like the PNM, I do not agree with the stand your ground proposal of the UNC, given that the empirical data from around the globe and, in particular, the USA, supports the view that such a law is subject to serious abuse.
However, I do support the proposal of the UNC for a 25-year sentence for home invasion offences. My understanding is that under the existing laws, the maximum sentence applicable is seven years. Clearly, that provision is woefully inadequate.
The UNC has not stated so but, as detailed in a previous letter, I am of the view that it should be a 25-year mandatory sentence, given the current prevalence and gravity of home invasions. The potential for complete mayhem is ever-present.
Many of these home invasions have resulted in the death, rape or serious injury of the victims, not to mention the loss of valuables earned over a lifetime of sacrifice and hard work and the post traumatic stress.
Of course, the deterrent effect of an increase in the penalty would be severely diminished if there is no significant improvement in the current rates of detection, prosecution and disposal of cases. However, that is an important and separate matter that space does not allow me to address now.
Given how the parties have addressed the matter of home invasions, the issue of the increase in the penalty has taken a back seat. Indeed, the Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds indicated to the media that the current laws to deal with home invasions are adequate.
Is Mr Hinds serious?! I vehemently disagree with him.
We, the ordinary law-abiding citizens of our beloved Republic, whether we support the Red, the Yellow, or neither of them, must take a united stand and let both the Government and the Opposition know that they are working for us, and we are not satisfied with their handling of this very critically important matter.
Our very lives could be at stake.
I am very perplexed by the comments of Mr Mohan Ramcharan.
Mr Ramcharan has misrepresented my position on this matter.
I am very much aware that there is existing legislation on home invasions and so stated in my Letter to the Editor. Moreover, the Editor in introducing my letter made it abundantly clear that, among other things, I was seeking an ” …upgrade in home invasion laws…”.
I remain firmly of the view that the existing legislation is inadequate and, therefore, needs upgrading.
The writer above clearly does not know that the law on home invasions is clearly established And quite clear. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.