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    July 20

  • 12:47 PM

OUR CARIBBEAN: Fighting or ‘talking’ crime?

Rickey Singh, Vasant Bharath

Added 14 September 2016


WHEN GOVERNMENT ministers responsible for crime and security start rejecting any blame for the increasing criminality afflicting their respective jurisdictions, the public should be on alert for worst-case scenarios while hoping for swift, enlightened responses from cabinet ministers and/or heads of government.

As gun-related crimes keep afflicting CARICOM states, with current primary victims including Belize, Barbados, The Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, this country’s Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon have gone publicly on the defensive, with some surprising pathetic “don’t-blame-me” claims.

Well, since no commissioner of police in our region would be expected to publicly accept blame for the awful spreading crime scenarios currently afflicting parishes, villages, communities or towns, it would simply mean that, in the case of both Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, finger-pointing would, inevitably, identify the political representatives sitting in the respective cabinets of Prime Ministers Freundel Stuart and Keith Rowley.

In the case of Trinidad and Tobago, a statement published at the weekend by the Trinidad Express sought to exonerate Minister Dillon from any blame in advancing the expedient argument that as minister he had “no responsibility for on-the-ground operations and interventions”.

How politically cute, cynics may say. And to whom is a police commissioner responsible in our inherited cabinet-style parliamentary governance system? Traditionally, of course, the minister of home affairs or, as identified in some other jurisdictions, by the minister of national security.

The national security portfolio is often held by the prime minister as currently the case in both Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

Therefore, when Barbados’ Mr Brathwaite, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of National Security Dillon vehemently reject any blame amid the apparent worsening crime-related social ills in their respective nations, where do the prime ministers stand on these related political scenarios?

Ultimately, both prime ministers are duty-bound to break their deafening public silence on these very important, sensitive national social/governance issues. And since his challenges seem more pressing, Mr Brathwaite could well do with an appropriate public intervention by Prime Minister Stuart.

Of course, given the nature of our party/governance politics both Mr Stuart and Dr Rowley may simply choose to sit on their hands instead of moving towards a relevant resolution

While Mr Brathwaite has been forthcoming in expressing his concerns over the spiralling social ills in Barbados – even as Prime Minister Stuart maintains customary public silence – the reality is that no specific proposal or initiative has accompanied general public statement so far to indicate the Government’s coming initiatives for curbing the spreading crime and related social ills plaguing various communities.

Evidently frustrated, and aware that 2017 is “election year” in Barbados, Attorney General Brathwaite has chosen to take a swipe at the Royal Barbados Police Force by urging them to “get tough” with gun smugglers in communities being increasingly affected by criminal elements – among them unemployed youth.

For starters, some may well ask why the Barbados Government, and more specifically Prime Minister Stuart, if not Attorney General Brathwaite, has not advised on new anti-crime initiatives to counter the spreading gun-related crimes.

For instance, why not authorise limited curfews in specific areas/communities to allow the security forces to unearth guns and illicit drugs consistent with new efforts to ensure and sustain a more healthy and productive environment?

This argument is also applicable to Trinidad and Tobago. But who will “bell” the proverbial “cat”? Or will the political scenarios remain much the same in both Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago – namely, plenty “political talk” but no new, creative initiative in either of these CARICOM countries?

• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.


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