Coudray: Crime tears lives apart
Thursday, April 4 2013
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MINISTER of Gender Affairs Marlene Coudray ...
MINISTER of Gender Affairs Marlene Coudray yesterday begged Opposition and Independent members of the Senate to “put country first” by supporting legislation to give soldiers police powers in order to assist in the war on crime.
Coudray, whose own family has experienced the effects of crime, urged senators to support the Miscellaneous Provisions (Defence and Police Complaints) Bill 2013 which will grant Defence Force personnel powers of arrest if made law.
With opposition to the bill mounting over the course of two sittings, Coudray warned senators that crime could easily affect them all.
“We have an opportunity to effect a strong response to crime and I appeal to all members that we need to be one on this issue,” she said. “This is not about politics. I beg, I urge members to ignore all of the bacchanal that is taking place.”
Coudray, whose own daughter, Michelle Coudray-Greaves, 39, was murdered in Jamaica last year, made a plea on behalf of the victims of crime.
“I make this appeal on behalf of every mother, father and child who have had their lives torn apart, who have been traumatised, on behalf of every man, woman and child who is living in fear of being a victim of crime, I am urging members to (back) this piece of legislation,” she said. “Put country first and think about our citizens and really show them that you care. I have to ask whether anybody in this (Senate) has ever known a victim of crime; what it does to your family life; your whole system,” Coudray said. Coudray also said her ministry sees first-hand the effects of crime daily.
Coudray said those who had not yet experienced the ravages of crime faced the prospect of doing so at some stage in the future.“It troubles me very deeply to hear the very callous statements being made and the politicising of this issue,” Coudray said. “It (crime) is going to affect all of you if you.” She cited the adage, “What ain’t reach you, ain’t pass you. The criminals are waging war against citizens of this country and the authorities and as a Government we must fight back.”
With both the Opposition and some Independents not supporting the measures, Coudray said the lack of consensus on the issue underlined the need for a reconsideration of the role of Parliament.
“As a country we need to ask ourselves what is the role of the Opposition and the Parliament to bring programmes to deal with this crisis,” she said.
Coudray accused the Opposition of “deceit” and “hypocrisy” in relation to its objection to the bill. She said in 2007, the PNM administration passed a bill which sanctioned the joint deployment of members of the Defence Force and Police Service on a Caricom level. This bill, the Security Assistance (Caricom) Act, she said, is still in effect.
“This law is on our books, made by the PNM Government but has not been enforced. It would seem that the PNM trusts foreigners more than they trust local soldiers,” she said. She said PNM Senator Fitzgerald Hinds would have been a Minister in the Ministry of National Security when this legislation was passed.
“I hate hypocrisy and deceit and this is what I see coming out here,” Coudray said. “I think it’s a lot of nonsense that is being said. They have no credibility at all. They are discrediting everything this Government tries to do. I do not think that the people who are advocating this really have the welfare of the citizenry at heart.” She also said the PNM had a history of engaging in talks with gang leaders and said this was one cause of the crime problem.
“The fish started to eat the fisherman,” she said.