Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Joseph's crime plan fails to impress

NATIONAL Security Minister Martin Joseph's presentation on the motion "Government's efforts to combat crime" in Parliament yesterday, continued Government's trend to make excuses for the crime problem and not deal with the critical question of impunity, Senior Counsel Martin Daly said.

Speaking in a telephone interview hours after Joseph's presentation, Daly said it was fine for him to state that drugs were a worldwide phenomenon and for new Social Development Minister Dr Amery Browne to speak about the alienation of youths during their respective presentations. However, he said they needed to explain why it was possible for a citizen to kill with complete impunity, yet the police were unable to catch and prosecute anyone.

He said one issue was the volume of crime but the other, and equally important issue, was the lack of effective policing and criminal justice systems.

Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers' Association (TTMA) president Karen de Montbrun meanwhile said Joseph's presentation was just "regurgitated", and many of the plans were discussed three and four years ago.

"There obviously have been problems with implementation," she added.

De Montbrun said implementation of plans "as usual is the problem", but no one was being held accountable for this. She said the police service also appeared to be inadequately staffed, trained and outfitted.

"It is incomprehensible that a country like Trinidad and Tobago, with ever increasing inflows of US dollars, should find itself unable to implement such policies and strategies to curtail crime," she said.

Commenting on Joseph's statements that many of the crimes were linked to the drug trade, De Montbrun pointed out that some guns involved in the drug trade came through the country's ports, and lamented that the TTMA had been calling for scanners at ports for a number of years but it was yet to be implemented.

Secretary general of the Maha Sabha, Sat Maharaj, in his response, claimed that Joseph was using "bogus figures" to show Government was winning the battle against crime, when it was actually losing it.

He pointed out that while Joseph showed a reduction in some crimes from 2006 to 2007, there was actually no drop in crime but an increase, as the minister was forgetting to mention what percentage of crime was no longer reported.

"He was failing to tell the population that people are not willing to report crime because they might be reporting to criminals (in the police service)," Maharaj said.

Maharaj noted that a Minister of National Security must have a personality that gives confidence, but Joseph, however, has a "mickey mouse" personality and does not radiate confidence.

"He cannot convince people or make you feel confident," he said. He added that as a citizen of this country, he was not comforted by Joseph's comments and suggested that he should have announced what new crime initiatives were taking place.

Maharaj joined calls made by Opposition politicians for Joseph's resignation.

I think we can all agree that the statements made in this article do echo the cry of the people of T&T. No one has any confidence whatsoever in Martin Joseph and he should resign with immediate effect. It's sad to say that Prime Minister Patrick Manning once said that Martin Joseph is the best Minister of National Security he has had, even though at that point in time, crime was escalating. It therefore leads me to the same conclusion that I'm sure most right thinking people will come to, and that is the PNM isn't concerned with the citizens and only concerned with filling their pockets. Therefore it is time that they be removed from Government and replaced by a more competent group of people. Five years is a really long time to wait. By the time the next general election is due, we would most likely see around two thousand more murders, or who knows, we may even see two thousand and twenty murders or 2020. Maybe this is the vision 2020 that Patrick Manning continually speaks of. 2020 murders every five years. Well it looks to me like he is well on his way to achieving his target.

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