Posts tagged ‘crime’

May 21, 2014

Corruption, Cocaine and Murder in Trinidad – VICE News

May 8, 2014

Fr Clyde Harvey on Crime and Society

Aired May 8, 2014 on ieTV Channel 1, Trinidad.

May 7, 2014

Gillian Lucky on Dana Seetahal SC Part 2

Aired May 7, 2014 on ieTV Channel 1, Trinidad.

January 15, 2014

National Security Minister Capt. Gary Griffith

Aired on ieTV on January 15, 2014.

August 21, 2011

Limited State of Emergency Declared in Trinidad & Tobago

Text of Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar’s statement made this evening.

Subject: press statement: Limited state of emergency

Good evening members of the media.

The entire nation has been rocked with the recent tragic news of the spate of murders over the past few days. The situation has reached proportions which the government must respond to in the most definitive manner possible.

I am advised that one of the causations for the spike in murders is ironically linked to the success by the police in the discovery of large drug hauls with values in excess of twenty million dollars in just one raid. These large sums of money simply do not disappear from the drug trade without consequences and in some of the cases now occurring, this is the result .The question though isn’t just what is causing it but how do we deal with it?

As you know, we have deployed more financial and human resources than any government in recent time in dealing with the scourge of crime and until this recent upsurge the nation had been encouraged by the decline shown by year to years statistics. But a problem of this nature that has been the result of years of neglect will not disappear overnight and we reassess day by day each strategy deployed and how effective it is in achieving short term and long term objectives in reducing crime. But the current crime spree dictates that more must be done and stronger action has to be employed now.

The situation cannot continue like this without a response commensurate with the wanton acts of violence and lawlessness; it must be a response as well that will halt the current spike in gang activity and crime in general in the shortest possible time.

After much deliberation with the National Security Council and members of the Cabinet it has been agreed that the government consider the imposition of a limited state of emergency in hot spots across the country. Such a consideration must of course have the agreement of the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, His Excellency, George Maxwell Richards and I will be meeting with him to discuss this matter.

The limited state of emergency will allow us to achieve a number of things in relation to crime reduction which would not be prudent for me to disclose in advance of the action taken.

We are aware that such a decision will have an impact on the daily lives of innocent, law abiding citizens in these areas but I feel confident that they will recognise and appreciate the need to protect them and bring the current crime surge affecting them under control. We have the will to tackle the crime problem in Trinidad and Tobago and the commitment to place every resource at our disposal towards waging and winning this war on crime. We will succeed. We will succeed. The nation will not be held to ransom by marauding groups of thugs bent on creating havoc on our society. The limited state of emergency in hot spots across Trinidad and Tobago is merely part of a larger aggressive reaction response by the government.

As these measures are being deployed using both out police and military we ask all citizens to bear with the inconveniences that may arise from time to time. This is in everyone’s interest. In fact, I intend to hold discussions with the Leader of the Opposition to seek his party’s support with certain legislative matters in Parliament. Trinidad and Tobago comes first.

Nothing is more important than the right of each citizen to be protected and to enjoy a life of peace and tranquility.

October 19, 2008

Sad testament


Temporarily back from my panicked attempts to arrange my ABC islands writing trip. At work today producing news one of our cameramen asked a reporter if she was told she had to spend two weeks in either Baghdad or Morvant ( a suburb of Port of Spain) which would she choose? He answer was immediately Baghdad. I answered Baghdad too as did another reporter. He actually added that at least in Baghdad he might have a fighting chance. This troubled me.


To check further I called several of my friends and each one of them also answered Baghdad ( one venturing that he might al least make it on CNN there if he died). The unanimous choice of Baghdad rather than a dangerous area of the capital is telling. This country has reached such a sorry state that people would choose a war ravaged city where mortar bombs and snipers are still a fact of life to  staying in an urban area on a Southern Caribbean island. Given that our murder toll for the year has just surpassed 437 it might not actually be an unwise choice. Trinidad and Tobago may not be rising up the world charts in terms of transparency or human development but we now have the dubious distinction of being in the top five most homicide prone nations on earth.


I suppose the other advantage of Baghdad is that there is a visible security presence on the ground. Even if you still end up being blown to smithereens at least you have the mental comfort of seeing that there is the possibility someone will be able to reduce the chances of it happening. In the rougher parts of Port of Spain even UPS and FedEx refuse to deliver packages. Despite government promises year after year that they have plans afoot the crime rate is headed out of control and it is my understanding that in the past three years only 77 new officers have been added to the force while many more than that have retired or just left the service.


It seems that nobody in authority is doing anything to address either the growing violence or the underlying causes of dispossessed youth. The Government’s ridiculous policy of using a system of welfare relief that involves getting 10 days of manual labour in exchange for pay or CEPEP which is organized through independent contractors paying for maintenance projects is actually encouraging gangs and violence. Just let people prove they are looking fo rwork and give them a damned welfare cheque…it isn’t rocket science.


Am I hopeful things are going to get better? Nope. Do I think they will get a lot worse? Hell yes.

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June 2, 2008

Pretty in Pink


Amazingly, it really doesn’t feel like a full week since my last blog entry but the calendar doesn’t lie I suppose. It has been a busy week and , despite the two public holidays, I have been working 7 days a week but the end is in sight so I am un-frying my mind to upload a quickie here. Not much point talking about the latest in homicide as the murder count keeps shooting upwards and we are now well over 200. There was a disturbing development over the past week involving 8 year old Hope Arismandez. She went missing and upon interrogating her mother’s boyfriend he confessed to killing her and led police to her body. The tragedy is sufficient to not require comment from me. One wonders what was going on in the mind of Sunil Ali that would have led to the event. I may lose my temper from time to time but I tend not to give in to my more unpleasant instincts which explains why members of parliament do not have bruises on the backs of their heads.


The aberrant mind is largely a mystery to the rest of us and sometimes there is at least some good to be gleaned from such incidents in that we are able to get valuable clues to help us protect society in the future. Sometimes, of course, there are no clues to be had and no lessons learned but there is always the hope for some insight however vague. In the case of Mr. Ali we will never know. He was charged  and placed in a cell under a suicide watch but was found dead less than 24 hrs later. The details seem to vary from one source to the next with one newspaper saying he hanged himself with a clothesline that was ( conveniently) in the cell in addition to slashing his wrists with a razor blade. Our sources at ieTV suggest that , while he had some lacerations on his wrists indicating he tried to cut himself he actually hanged himself with bed sheets. The papers were, naturally, replete with headlines about him taking “the easy way out” but I think any sensible person must be led to ask some questions. Ignoring , for a moment, my complete lack of comprehension about how suicide could possibly be an easy way out of anything one wonders what sort of fools we have working in the prison system. If someone is on a suicide watch I assumed they were to be supervised constantly and not given access to anything they could use to do themselves in. Now if we are to assume that the custodians of our prisons are not complete imbeciles then we can only conclude that someone decided he should be either given the means of killing himself and conveniently allowed to do so or else his demise was somehow assisted. Neither possibility sits well with me. We have an inefficient justice system in this country but it is still there for a purpose. People are entitled to their day in court and, presumably, justice prevails. When incompetence or some sort of warped vigilantism supplants the law then we have a serious problem. 


The prisons have announced that an investigation will take place but I would bet top dollar that nothing will be forthcoming. As is usual here the perverting of justice will be swept under the carpet and everything will go back to looking glass normal. This is not about defending an apparent killer…it is about due process and about lessons that could have been learnt to prevent such incidents in the future. Of course the same idiots who keep electing idiots of various parties are the ones now telling the TV cameras..” He saved us the trouble..I’m glad he did it”. I can only shake my head and hope that the next generation is a little more circumspect. Mind you it may be a misplaced hope since as far as I can gather many UWI and UTT graduates cannot even spell “circumspect”.


In other more pleasant developments Peggy’s interviews on my programme got a lot of very good feedback and quite a few calls asking when we are going to air them again. She has been busy using her time to explore the Trinidad she has missed for 10 years and, no doubt, collecting more fodder for her next literary foray.  I am hoping to have her over on Wednesday night to meet some of my friends and there has been something of a demand for invitations. I will try not to break my rule to never entertain more than 6 people for dinner as I find anything more than that prevents good conversation. I may not be Sir Noel Coward but I will look for a cigarette holder and try my best.


It would be remiss of me not to mention that I also attended one of the strangest events of the year on Thursday night – Peter’s Pink Party. Peter Sheppard, having turned a certain age, decided to hold a party for himself a month after the actual event. The only rule was that everyone wear pink t-shirts emblazoned with the logo of the party on them which he thoughtfully provided via special delivery. It was the usual fun combination of people and Naz pulled all the culinary bits together well ( though much of the food was made by the excellent Wings Restaurant)  including such thoughtful touches as pineapple chow and pink champagne. The diversity of their friends never ceases to amaze me and yet everyone gets along perfectly. I am sure if crabby old me had such a party I would be safe with my six person limit…in fact even that might be a stretch.


May 4, 2008

The Fear Factor


Apparently I have been rather derelict in adding entries to my blog. It is amazing how quickly time can elapse when the everyday distractions of normal life get to work. I suppose this society lends itself to distraction of one form or another as the average citizen tries to do everything but actually think. I have personally eschewed the usual feting and drinking in favour of conquering the various hurdles of Zelda, Twilight Princess on the Wii and catching up on some reading of various sorts. 

Crime is a current that underlies most aspects of living in this country and ,though it is sometimes possible to ignore the perils that surround us, we are always brought back to the reality of the situation. While the government and ( especially) the so-called Minister of National Security dither about and  spend a great deal of time saying things are improving – the reality is somewhat different. This need to be wary was brought home again in the last couple of days when Philippa Talma, the daughter of the widely respected Professsor Julian Kenny, was kidnapped while closing up her boutique at 6:45 in the evening. She was not doing anything unusual and was certainly not out and about in the wee hours of the morning to make herself a target. She was simply doing what   thousands of business people do at the end of each day and then she was snatched and thrown into a car. Her whereabouts are still not known and it is now reported that the kidnappers are asking for a million dollars for her safe return. Quite apart from the fear she must be experiencing goodness knows how she is being treated by the scum that have committed this evil act. The horror of the act is even worse when one stops to think what her kids and family must be going through for the last 48 hours.

This is not the first kidnapping we have had and, sadly, it will not be the last. There seems to be a class of people that regard the crime as a sort of industry. How this can happen in a country that is not large by any stretch and how the police cannot manage to capture these criminals is beyond me. I can understand why the police are powerless to stop gang slayings and domestic situations that go bad because of the nature of these sorts of crimes but kidnapping is an organized business and the police should have an organized response. The situation is made even more maddening when rumours abound that some police officers are complicit . 

While all this happens we are seeing a major exodus of business people who, in my view quite rightly, see little point in hanging around when they or their family members may be taken at gunpoint and held pending a ransom payment. Those business owners who choose to stay live lives surrounded by security arrangements and usually send their family overseas for safety. The rest of us are told that we should take measures to ensure that we are aware of our surroundings at all times and not place ourselves in situations that would make us easy targets. I am not sure exactly what this means as people have been kidnapped while in their homes, while walking to their cars in broad daylight and even while attending class. My life consists of leaving home, looking around while I open the gate to get to my car, locking the car doors the second I get in, varying my route to work slightly every day, looking around when I get out of my car to get to work and generally assuming anyone walking on the street wants to do me harm. All of this is not the ideal situation when it comes to having a normal quality of life. I do these things even though I am not even in the kidnap-worthy category although several people who are just middle class by any assessment have been kidnapped in the past. I cannot even imagine what someone with money must go through as they try to live their daily life.

It find it ironic that the average person in New York, Toronto or London has good reason to feel safer than i do living on a small tropical island. Then again, they have police services that work.


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