Kamla announces crime plan in Parliament

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, second from left, along with, from left, MPs David Lee, Rodney Charles, Fazal Karim and Bhoendradatt Tewarie in Parliament on Friday. - Ayanna Kinsale
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, second from left, along with, from left, MPs David Lee, Rodney Charles, Fazal Karim and Bhoendradatt Tewarie in Parliament on Friday. - Ayanna Kinsale

Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced her master plan to fight crime in Parliament on Friday afternoon.

She said the Ministry of National Security would be restructured and made into two ministries – The Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Home Affairs – and she signalled plans to reintroduce the Ministry of Justice.

She was contributing to a private motion to condemn the Government for its failure to deal with the rampant crime, at the 18th sitting of the House of Representatives.

"I think the present way the ministry is structured it cannot adapt to what's happening in our nation.

"In Home Affairs we will deal with internal law enforcement which is to ensure the deterrences are provided and will involve action before the crime is committed."

The police, Fire Service, Prisons and E99 command centre are some of the units that will be under that ministry.

"The Ministry of Defence will (deal with) protection of our borders. This ministry will be established based on present dangers: human trafficking, drugs and illegal guns trafficking, terrorism and to work with international allies.

Customs division, TT Defence Force, immigration and counter-trafficking unit are some of the units that will be placed under new Defence Ministry.

She said, while she supported anti-crime legalisation by the Government it was clear that all its plans were not working.

Persad-Bissessar said the Rowley-led Government had failed in its mandate to protect citizens and, currently, crime is at a crisis level and she sees no hope after five years.

She then commended Minister of National Security Stuart Young for his efforts in fighting crime before adding, "You have done all these things and yet still the murder rate is 89 in 57 days, maybe more. It is clear to every human in this country those things don't work because crime continues to spiral in this country."

She said the Opposition had not promoted any criminal activity in TT, as stated by Young. She called on him to bring the evidence to all his allegations.

"I can continue with the rebuttals but these blame games will get us nowhere."

Persad-Bissessar said the Opposition would only support legalisation that could improve the lives of citizens.

However, she is prepared to stand against any legalisation that could harm the country.

Speaking on the Interception of Communications Bill, she said it would damage every person in the country and breach their rights. The bill isn't transparent, she added, so the Opposition will not support it.

Persad-Bissessar said government should look at different avenues for fighting crime apart from incarceration adding she would not support the new bail legislation without amendments because there is "a more humane way of dealing with criminals.

"It is structured in a way that people who have the money can pay and those who can't will stay in jail. It benefits those with resources."

Persad-Bissessar announced plans to set up pre-trials centres for non-violent offenders with an option to still go to work while incarcerated. She also spoke of plans for the establishment of rehab facilities for drug abuse and mental illness inmates. Drug treatment programmes will also be offered.

House arrest will also be considered as another option and support for children whose parents are incarcerated. She proposed the increase in the retirement age of defence force members from 50.

"At the moment, very experienced persons have to leave at an early age. When they leave where do they go? What job are they getting?"

There are also plans to increase the age for recruitment in the protective service and defence force to 27.

Persad-Bissessar plans to bring legalisation for $1 million for the family of officers killed in the line of duty. A Ministry of the People will also be established.


"Kamla announces crime plan in Parliament"

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