Both PNM and UNC governments over the years failed to curb crime, charged Independent Senator Paul Richards. He spoke in the Senate on Tuesday on Opposition Senator Saddam Hosein’s private motion on the Government’s failure to deal with crime.
“While I appreciate and commend Senator Hosein for bringing the motion, I don’t agree it is the Government’s responsibility,” Richards said. He urged a new mindset about whose duty it is to cut crime, failing which we will be talking about crime for 30 years to come.
He said citizens find it frustrating to hear politicians blame each other, while more than 200 murders have been committed each year since 2002, when 172 people lost their lives.
“From 2003 it went to 229. On four occasions, maybe five, it went over 500, spanning both PNM and UNC administrations.
“So, ‘You are doing better’ or ‘I am doing better’ simply does not apply in this situation. Pointing fingers and blame has not gotten us anywhere and will not get us anywhere in the future.”
Richards queried the motion’s blame of the Government for crime, saying it may have just the executive responsibility but other actors also have roles.
“If the Government, Opposition, Independents, Judiciary, law enforcement, prisons, law associations, NGOs, faith-based organisations, academia, educational institutions, sports organisations, families and the media are not involved in direct contribution to the fight against crime and the maintenance of law and order in TT, we are going to continue to abysmally fail. That is a fact.” Richards blamed crime on social inequity and social injustice.
“We have to change our mindset and provide and contribute to more sustainable solutions. It has to be all hands on deck.”
He said TT’s women, children and elderly were vulnerable to crime, and special laws must be enacted to protect them.
Richards listed the number of murders over the years, alluding that crime was unabated during the terms of successive governments.
“Going back to 1994 and the claims of victory and success by successive administrations in the fight against crime in TT, we will see that really should not be applied. We cannot ascribe the words ‘success’ or ‘victory’ when between 1995 and 1999 there were 520 murders." Richards said for 2000-2005, the tally jumped to 1,197 murders.
"From 2006 to 2010 there were 1,822 murders in our little twin-island republic, a jump of 625. From 2011 to 2015 that jumped to 1,985 murders, an increase of 163. From 2016 to 2019, there were 2,011 murders, and there are 26 I think on my last count in 2020 so far. [Newsday's tally is 47 since the start of the year.]
“So if you look at those numbers, no administration can claim victory or success. None. A cursory look at these numbers would indicate there have been over 7,000 murders in TT in that crime period, for our population size. That is unacceptable and no-one can claim victory in that regard.”
He said from 172 murders in 2002, deaths jumped to 229 the next year, with a steady increase since then including four years which each had over 500 murders.
Richards likewise traced the number of reported rapes of women over the years. There were 670 in 2008; 642 in 2009; 632 in 2010 and 829 in 2014. He said rape is a highly under-reported crime, with the true figures likely to be double or triple. “We are failing abysmally at protecting our women in TT."
Saying in 2017, some 53 women were killed including 47 in domestic violence scenarios, he said women are being targeted. In 2019, some 43 women were killed. “We have a problem in TT. We have predators and murderers targeting women in TT. We have to focus on laws and law enforcement protocols that protect women and children and the elderly”.