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Friday 21 September 2018
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Ganging up against crime

Better late than never. The Government and the Opposition must live up to their promise to work together to deal with national security legislation. Collaboration is essential if we are to move forward.

Gang activity might involve specific hotspots and communities, but it affects the entire society.

Therefore, the Opposition’s change of heart in relation to its stance on the anti-gang legislation is not just a matter of political expediency.

It is a matter of necessity. It is now for the Parliament to take the necessary steps to ensure that the outcome of the legislative process is a law that, on balance, is in the public interest.

No bill is perfect, and efforts should be made to iron out the difficulties inherent in measures that abrogate human rights. But it is within the powers of the Government and the Opposition to seek the relevant expertise to ensure adequate checks and balances are put in place to nullify the prospect of abuse of power.

The standing orders must be suspended by way of a motion to allow the return of the previous bill.

Such a motion is not uncommon in our Parliamentary affairs but it should be passed unanimously.

The gravity of the situation is such that desperate times call for desperate measures. It is also within the power of the Government to present a new bill or to include relevant provisions in another bill already on the legislative agenda.

The way forward might involve an omnibus national security bill dealing, for instance, with criminal activity and anti-terrorism. Both sides must dialogue on what is the best way forward.

Whatever form this new collaboration between the Government and the Opposition takes we are heartened to see signs that it is already resulting in a shift in the tone of our politics.

Both the Government and the Opposition erred this week by exchanging barbs over the murders at Morvant.

All would do well to follow the example of Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young who on Thursday pointedly declined to engage in a tit-for-tat with the Opposition.

The only way to fight gangs is to act as a team and gang up against the criminals. This detente between the PNM and UNC must be sustained.

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