Wednesday 27th February, 2008

 
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Signs of the times

  • No meaningful response to police killings ‘revelation.’
  • Government cannot contain the activities of the criminals
  • The murders are terrifying law-abiding citizens.

Two developments relating to the abominable crime scenario should give us cause to reflect on what the hell is going on in this place.

First we had this allegation by opposition MP Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj about the existence of a death squad within the Police Service and in another arm of the security forces.

I am surprised that this “revelation” did not produce any meaningful response from the national community, particularly the upper echelons of the Ministry of National Security.

The only official response came from Commissioner of Police Trevor Paul who amazingly said he could not say yea or nay because he did not see the “purported” accusation.

I am in no position to pronounce on the veracity or otherwise of the potentially damaging accusation made by Maharaj, a senior counsel and former Attorney General.

It is true that the MP is a politician and an opposition parliamentarian at that. It is also a fact that opposition politicians by nature are wont to make outrageous allegations to score points on their political adversaries, ie the Government.

But I cannot understand how National Security Minister Martin Joseph has not found it prudent to pronounce on Maharaj’s statement.

He cannot be accused of creating mischief under the cover of parliamentary privilege as the accusation was made in a public forum. This is what he said in part while addressing a meeting of the UNC-A at Orange Valley in central Trinidad:

“The police are actually killing. The Government has created two police services, one under a commissioner of police and one under a brigadier.”

Certainly not the ranting of a madman. He said the killings were taking place because the Government cannot contain the activities of the criminals who are killing left, right and centre, at will.

Why is it necessary for the authorities to respond one way or the other to this charge? Simple. The murders are terrifying the living daylights out of law-abiding citizens and the security forces are unable to bring this terrible affliction under control.

It also goes without saying that this situation is not healthy for the international image of the country.

Can any reader recall that Joseph disclosed some time ago that some concerned businessmen had requested him to take certain actions against some of the known criminals? And that he adamantly turned down such an illegal and outrageous request?

I repeat that I am in no way suggesting that what Maharaj said was true. Indeed, I have no evidence to support such, and one would only hope that the politician/lawyer would make public the information to support his contention.

If this serious allegation is not put down what can we expect the relatives of certain people killed by the police to conclude?

And we are hearing such claims regularly after loved ones are “taken out,” reputed gang members or not.

While we all cannot wait to see the end to this nightmare that is plaguing the country, we must be careful not to do anything that we may later regret in this quest to bring peace and security back to our land.

Death squads as obtained in Brazil were known to use the guise of getting rid of the lawless elements to settle personal vendattas.

What must one make of Maharaj’s claim in the context of the abysmally low murder detection rate by the police? Is there a connection between the two?

One can never know unless the authorities come clean with citizens.

Again I am not casting aspersions but when these serious allegations are made and officialdom steadfastly refuses to publicly deal with them, how do they expect people to react?

I don’t think it is okay to simply say, as Dr Williams once famously said, let the jack--- bray and the issue would just go away.

One recalls the prompt responses of Mr Manning and Information Minister Neil Parsanlal when the same Maharaj claimed a member of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet had a US$8 million account, unknown to the Integrity Commission.

They strongly denied this. I am most surprised too that Parsanlal, the Government’s chief spin doctor, has not rushed in to shoot down the MP’s allegation.

Come on, Neil, you have responded to far less damning accusations against the Government. What about this one, eh?

The second issue was this incident in Tabaquite where about seven employees of the Works Ministry were held up and robbed at their office.

Thankfully no one was injured or killed as the criminals had enough time to cause death an injury. But the most startling thing about that episode was the philosophical “lecture” the bandits gave their victims while depriving them of their property.

“This is what the country has come to,” they told their victims.

If our security forces do not get the message from this Tabaquite escapade, that they are dealing with intelligent miscreants, we are really in no man’s land. These are not stupid people and if the police intend to beat the criminals by “dotish” tactics, they will never win this war .

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