foreign aid vs local self-help
T&T police, notoriously lacking in credit and honour
in their own country, have received rare and generous commendation
from the US authorities.
It does not subscribe to the International Criminal Court,
but especially since it declared war on terror, the US has
found its ways to project an internationalist interest in
This American approach is highlighted when US citizens are
somehow involved, or when US territory has been used or
targeted for use in criminal activities. T&T citizens
are serving time in Stateside prisons for drug trafficking
into the US and gun running from the US.
The T&T authorities have co-operated with the implementation
of this US policy, and have indeed shown enthusiasm in exporting,
as it were, the problem of difficult, expensive and time-consuming
Facing the prospect of preliminary inquiries, legal challenges,
trials and appeals dragging on interminably in the local
courts, T&T authorities are increasingly inclined to
take the easy way out. That way is to accede to the Americans
request to let them handle it.
Local authorities may even be prompting the US to get involved,
as a means of axing the Gordian knot they see in making
some charges stick in the courts here, and in reasonable
Now, the US authorities are actively seeking the extradition
of the individuals allegedly involved in the kidnapping
and murder in T&T last year of war veteran Ballram Balo
The US Embassy, asserting this interest, also commended
the investigators whose work has produced 11 suspects accused
of the Maharaj kidnap and murder.
Local authorities are no doubt content to accept the praise.
It had earlier been reported, however, that US agents had
helped in the sleuthing that led to the arrests.
But it is in the interest both of the US and its local counterparts
to accustom the public to the reality of international co-operation
in crime fighting and law enforcement or, more narrowly,
of close collaboration with the US.
That the internationalisation of crime fighting is rapidly
advancing is by now well established in T&T. Like Jamaica,
Guyana, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada,
this country has sought and received from better-resourced
allies assistance in training, investigation and even in
the transformation of the T&T police service.
Though long self-governing, Caribbean countries are still
not self-sufficient in critical resources and systems to
undergird their legal and judicial independence.
After nearly two decades, T&T continues to rely on forensic
accounting services of the Canadian Robert Lindquist for
the untangling of allegedly criminal wheeling and dealing.
In an era of crime globalisation, no country can pretend
to total self-reliance, nor can it disdain the potential
value of foreign co-operation. In T&T, however, the
availability of foreign help operates actually to discourage
the development of indigenous crime-fighting and prosecuting
To the extent it remains possible to import US experts to
investigate mystery bomb blasts in Port-of-Spain, and to
export knotty cases for trial abroad, the urgency is undercut
to sharpen local investigative capacity and make the courts
Though appreciative of critical inputs brought to bear,
Caribbean countries cannot overlook that the US, in particular,
is itself equally a part of the problem and part of the
Large-scale criminal deportations by the US unquestionably
boost regional crime resources of experience and expertise.
Without reviewing and reversing the criminal deportation
policy, the gains of international co-operation in crime
fighting stand only to be continually undermined, and even
reduced to naught. The T&T and regional authorities
should miss no opportunity forcefully to make this case
to their US counterparts.