SEVERAL members of a parliamentary committee on Wednesday expressed concern about legal limitations placed on crime victims seeking, from the State, recompense for their suffering which is currently capped at $25,000 per claim.
More so, a victim is limited to filing his/her claim within a year of the date of the crime, members lamented. This was all unearthed when the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on Local Authorities, Services Commissions and Statutory Authorities, chaired by Dr Varma Deyalsingh, held a virtual interview of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
Deyalsingh, secretary of the TT Psychiatrists Association, lamented the hypothetical case of a rape victim suffering post traumatic stress disorder (PTSC) having to meet the one-year time limit to file.
Asked about the $25,000 ceiling on claims and the possibility of $50,000 being awarded in certain cases at ministerial discretion, board chairman Alvin Pascall said finance ministers over the years had seemed reluctant to alter this limit. Deyalsingh was glad to see the US Embassy in TT notifying its nationals of the availability of such compensation.
JSC member Jayanti Lutchmedial raised the idea of monthly payments being made to the family of a murdered breadwinner in place of a one-off payment of $25,000.
Earlier, she sought to assess the efficacy of the police service Victim and Witness Support Unit by asking how many of the board's compensation claims had been filed by way of assistance/awareness to the victim provided by the unit. In reply, the board's social work specialist T'Shara Mills-Audain replied, "About 50 per cent."
Later, Pascall said the board would suggest to the Law Reform Commission certain amendments to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act.