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Rowley: No real progress on crime

By CLINT CHAN TACK Monday, December 16 2013

AS THE country’s murder toll rose to 385 yesterday, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley is concerned that no real headway is being made to curb levels of violent crime. “Notwithstanding all that has been promised, all that has been said and all that has been done, it is clear that no significant progress has been made with respect to our response to the frequent occurrences of violent crime in the country,” Rowley said.

“In certain conditions it is possible to discern that the situation has worsened. Only recently, there was an official campaign aimed at duping the population when officials were trumpeting that violent crime was down by 35 percent.”

During debate on the Bail Amendment Bill 2013 in the House of Representatives last Friday, Government Chief Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal admitted the country’s homicide figure this year was three percent higher than last year’s figure. Moonilal said Government was “not pleased” about this and urged the Opposition to support the bill. However, Government suspended debate on the bill, which proposes a “one strike and you’re out” approach for certain offences, during the same sitting.

Sports Minister Anil Roberts, who moved the suspension, did not indicate when debate on the bill would resume. Newsday understands the debate should resume when the House sits in January after the Christmas break. The bill was one of several measures proposed by Government during its anti-crime talks with the Opposition in August following a spate of murders in East Port-of-Spain in July. Moonilal indicated Government was seriously considering a recommendation by Rowley about legislation to deal with jury tampering . He said Government hoped to advance a policy on this in the new year and discuss the matter further with the Opposition.

Rowley further noted, “The security and judicial services are overwhelmed.” He also said, “The wholesale dismantling of the security apparatus of the State and the appointment of favoured persons who are manifestly unsuited for the jobs that they have been given only further compound the problem.”

(See Page 20A)

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