Trinidad and Tobago, often referred to as not a real place, is currently grappling with a dire crime crisis. Despite promises made by both the Government and Opposition to address this issue, the inaugural meeting to discuss the matter remains elusive even after three months. While the Government has been criticized for their slow response, it is important to acknowledge the Opposition’s lack of responsibility in promptly forming the committee.
The crime situation in Trinidad and Tobago has reached crisis levels, with the country reporting 454 murders in the first nine months of 2023. The alarming murder rate, coupled with a surge in violence and heinous crimes against women, demands urgent attention. On August 24, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar requested an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and their respective national security teams to combat serious crime. President Christine Kangaloo echoed this sentiment during the Ceremonial Opening of the Fourth sitting of the 12th Session of Parliament on September 20, 2023, calling for unity among parliamentarians to address the issue.
In response to Kangaloo’s plea, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley indicated his intention to initiate discussions with the Opposition, and on October 12 Prime Minister Rowley proposed the government’s team for anti-crime talks, chaired by Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC. However, it is evident that the Opposition has not responded with the necessary alacrity to establish the committee. This delay raises concerns about their commitment to effectively address the crime crisis.
The Opposition Leader’s response on October 14, suggesting that stakeholders and experts should be included in the committee, despite it being primarily composed of Parliamentarians is yet another indication of their lack of capacity and incompetence. While it is important to prioritize expertise and insights from individuals who can contribute to effective strategies in combating crime, it is crucial to acknowledge that the committee primarily consists of Parliamentarians.
The lack of competent persons in the Opposition’s Parliamentary lineup has consequentially resulted into stalling tactics that only delay the implementation of a crime plan that can save lives. It is essential for the Opposition to work collaboratively with the Government to find solutions. The Opposition must prioritize the well-being of citizens over political posturing and self-interest.
Why is there a need for the Prime Minister to personally chair the committee, as the presence of the Attorney General ensures competent leadership? The inclusion of stakeholders and experts can be facilitated through consultation and engagement outside of the formal committee structure. This demand of the Opposition is an attempt to include the former Minister of National Security, Commissioner of Police, and now National Transformation Alliance Political Leader, who is an ally of the UNC.
It is disheartening to witness this blame game and lack of urgency from the Opposition. The citizens of Trinidad and Tobago deserve swift action and a united front in tackling the crime crisis. It is crucial for all parties involved to set aside political differences and prioritize the safety and well-being of the people.
The Opposition’s lack of urgency in forming the committee only exacerbates this issue. It is essential for them to recognize their role in effectively addressing crime in Trinidad and Tobago. Their stalling tactics only serve to delay progress towards finding viable solutions. The government of Trinidad and Tobago must prioritize addressing the crime crisis that plagues its citizens and take action and forget about the inclusion of the Opposition which is only political posturing and delays.
Dr. Devant Maharaj, PhD, MBA