Charles questions Hinds’ absence from Trinidad and Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: Naparima MP Rodney Charles.

NAPARIMA MP Rodney Charles on Thursday questioned the absence of National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds from Trinidad and Tobago.

Hinds was due to return to TT on Thursday.

A statement issued by the National Security Ministry on Tuesday said Hinds “will be overseas on official business for the period April 19-21.” During his absence, Energy Minister Stuart Young was to act as national security minister.

The statement gave no details about where or why Hinds was overseas. Hinds and Young could not be reached for comment.

In a statement on Thursday, Charles wondered why Hinds was abroad when 13 murders happened over the Easter weekend. He said Hinds should be leading the battle against crime from in front, with both hands on the wheel.

He reiterated the UNC’s allegation that “from all indicators thus far, Hinds has failed and is falling down badly on the job (as national security minister).”

Charles said since Hinds’ appointment on April 19, 2021, “There have been increases in murders every single month when compared to the year before his term began.”

He said from November 2020 to last November, murders increased from 24 to 69.

“In November 2020 there were 24 murders, under Hinds in November 2021, it was 69. In January 2021 there were 25 murders, for January 2022 it more than doubled to 52.”

Charles claimed an urgent question submitted by the UNC about Hinds’ absence was not approved for Wednesday’s sitting of the House of Representatives. He also claimed a motion on the adjournment of the House on Wednesday to debate crime was not approved either.

The UNC already has a private motion on crime, filed by Charles, being debated in the House. Debate on it began on March 25

During that debate, Hinds rejected Charles’s claims that crime was skyrocketing and the PNM was doing nothing to stop it.

Referring to statistics provided by the police, Hinds said there were 450 murders in 2021, compared to 399 in 2020. But he observed, “The statistics still represent a significant decrease in what occurred in previous years.”

He said there were 509 murders in 2019 and 516 in 2018.

“The data presented shows no indication of any rapid or out-and-out increase in murders. Those are the statistics.” He added there were similar patterns with respect to break-ins and robberies.

In a post on his Facebook page on Monday, Hinds praised acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob for police seizing illegal guns and making arrests.

The Opposition has suspended debate on Charles’ motion on crime when the House sits on Friday from 1.30 pm, to allow Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram to open debate on another motion on food prices.