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What’s taking so long?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Minister in the Office of the Attorney General Fitzgerald Hinds was clearly frustrated on Monday when he pointed out to Ministry of National Security officials that six years after passage of legislation legalising electronic bracelets, implementation of the system is “horribly behind schedule.”

That is putting it mildly given the current situation in the country of a worsening crime situation and overcrowded prisons.

Hinds, in his position as chairman of the Joint Select Committee on National Security, said when the legislation was passed in 2012, “we were hoping to begin to monitor electronically persons who were pending trial and persons sentenced by way of application of these so-called bracelets.”

Is this another case of bureaucracy?

Electronic monitoring can be an effective tool in the criminal justice system for keeping track of persons on remand at various stages of a criminal case. It can help ease the pressure on the country’s overburdened remand facilities.

In jurisdictions where the system operates, it has also proven to be an effective part of a complex system of monitoring the behaviour and movements of suspects or offenders. While not perfect, it is much better than anything that currently applies to criminal justice in T&T. Minister Hinds is right. Six years is much too long for implementation of such an urgently needed system.

Rush hour security needed

The attack on Scotiabank employee Rostan Mahabir, who was shot during a robbery on his way to work on Monday morning, raises a red flag about inadequate levels of security in key areas of commercial activity, particularly during rush hour.

Given the location where the robbery took place, on High Street in San Fernando where there is usually heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffic around that time at the start of the business day, it should not have been so easy for the perpetrator to strike, then escape capture. This isn’t about pointing fingers at the police, who should have heavy mobile and foot patrols in city centres, but also about ensuring sufficient monitoring systems and deterrents. Criminals are becoming more and more brazen because they know they have a good chance of getting away and never having to face trial or jail time.

It is time for law enforcement and supporting security systems to adjust and respond to that new reality.

Unnecessary distraction

Marla Dukharan, one of the five local economists recently criticised by Finance Minister Colm Imbert for being biased, suggested in a CNC3 Morning Brew interview yesterday that it was a strategy of distraction. She might be right. What it was for sure was unnecessary.


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