Tuesday, January 14 2014
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Standing firm: Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley during a press conference at his office, Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday....
The Opposition People’s National Movement will not meet with National Security Minister Gary Griffith in relation to the drafting of a national security policy.
“The Opposition will not take responsibility for Government. We will not make ourselves available to be pappy-showed by Government ministers in a Cabinet and a Government that has collapsed,” Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday morning when asked if the PNM will meet with Griffith who has proposed engaging opposition parties to help with the crime situation.
Reacting later to Rowley’s response, Griffith said, “He does not want to meet with the National Security Minister, that is totally up to him.
“If Rowley considers a common ground to deal with national security issues including national policies to protect citizens ‘a pappyshow’”, Griffith said, “It is a pity. That speaks for itself.”
Rowley told the media yesterday at a press conference held at his Charles Street, Port-of-Spain office, that the PNM has put a proposal to Government including the establishment of a parliamentary joint select committee charged with the responsibility for crime security and crime suppression and to date Government has not acted on it.
This committee, Rowley said, would have dealt with the creation of a national crime reduction plan that included witness protection and serious penalties for witness tampering “for which nothing has been done.”
While he was not at liberty to elaborate on the policies and operational side of witness protection, Griffith told Newsday, “Much has been put in place to ensure witness protection.”
The issue of penalties for witness tampering he said was out of his jurisdiction.
Noting that the PNM will cooperate with Government in the fight against crime at the parliamentary level, Rowley said the PNM even suggested how its proposed Joint Select Committee for oversight on crime reduction should be structured.
“The Government listened, nodded and has done absolutely nothing on parliamentary oversight,” Rowley said.
Noting Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has accused the PNM of supporting crimes and criminals, he said, “the National Security Minister wants to meet with the Opposition, we are not taking part in that pappy-show.”
Describing as “madness” Griffith seeking to meet with the Opposition, Rowley said in meetings at the level of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, “we get brushed aside. We meet with the Attorney General, we get attacked and lied upon.”
Claiming that Griffith and Ramlogan contradict each other publicly on the amendment to the Defence Act to give soldiers policing powers, he said Ramlogan’s interview on national television yesterday morning blaming the Opposition and Independent Senators for the bill’s failure in the Parliament “points to a collapse of the Government on crime fighting.”
Criticising Ramlogan for blaming the Opposition on the television show for the current rise in crime, Rowley said, “We can expect no improvement in our dilemma with crime as long as the Prime Minister allows the business of the country to be conducted by the likes of Anand Ramlogan.”
“The Opposition accepts no blame whatsoever. We reject any blame. We are not elected as opposition to do that. We take no responsibility for Government’s failure” he said adding the Members of Parliament he leads have been the most cooperative of oppositions.”
Expressing shock at Ramlogan’s suggestion that the PNM’s proposal to give the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) more power to investigate and prosecute rogue police officers will undermine the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Rowley said, “the DPP has powers to stop any proceedings in any court of law.”
It will be better, he said, if the PCA investigates and prosecute the police rather than the police prosecute police.
Reiterating a number of issues raised when the PNM proposed a ten-point plan to Government in mid-2013 which included an audit of the Police Service, and to make the make the PCA a watchdog for the police, Rowley said Government has done nothing.
The Bail Bill which will disallow bail to persons who would have had one previous conviction, he said, will compound the situation of overcrowded prisons, adding the amendment to the Defence Act to give soldiers policing powers and the so-called Hanging Bill are bad bills and the PNM will not support them.