JTUM proposes crime-fighting measures

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) president Ancel Roget, JTUM secretary Ozzi Warwick, and trustee of the Aviation Communication & Allied Workers’ Union Rudi Atwell speak during the JTUM media conference at the CWU Hall, Henry Street, Port of Spain. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

The Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) is calling on government to implement several measures to reduce the level of crime and criminality in TT.

President Ancel Roget said the population will not feel safe until government takes competent steps to address the situation.

At a media conference at the Communication Workers’ Union Hall, Henry Street, Port of Spain, on Tuesday, he said so far there have been 523 murders for the year.

“The majority of gun violence is caused by sophisticated weaponry, but there is no national discussion about where these weapons and ammunition are coming from and who is importing them. We thought the Pennywise incident was the worst that could happen, but then that video of the Rose Hill RC Primary School began circulating. What’s next? People are still traumatised. Government is not concerned about the violence because they and their friends are not being affected.”

Roget said anyone could be the target or casualty of a stray bullet. He noted that as Christmas approached, the level of violence would increase and become more vicious.

He listed nine measures which, he said, would contribute towards reducing the level of crime, especially in Trinidad.

“I am calling for the locking down of our borders to protect our citizens from the influx of drugs, guns, and illegal migration into TT. They are now more porous than they have ever been, all around the island, and we are at the mercy of the criminals.

“We also call for a national consultation on crime and criminal activities in all communities, to be led by competent, credible authorities who are trained in criminology, crime, and criminal activities, in a national discussion as to how we can protect our communities and our country.”

Roget called for a thorough examination of the poor socio-economic situation and its contribution to the rising crime and criminal activity in TT.

“An investigation into who are the importers of these sophisticated weapons, because it takes money to import all these arms and ammunitions. The importers are not the shooters and vice versa. Someone or some group of people are making a thriving trade by importing these weapons and putting them in the hands of these young black men.

“Imagine we are prioritising the investigation of legally-acquired firearm users’ licenses and not who is bringing in these guns. Our priorities are backwards.”

Roget called for more programmes for young people who are being drawn into crime.

“More sporting activities, more apprenticeship programmes and so on. In the outlying communities, we used to have the Palo Seco Velodrome, we would have had sporting facilities that Petrotrin would have contributed to, and now they are neglected and overgrown.

“We call for the implementation of a proper, well-thought out, well-implemented apprenticeship programme that will give our young people hope. All of those things are absent, and in the absence of engaging our youth in productive activities, they are encouraged into a life of crime very young.”

Roget called for the police to be given the resources needed, including proper training and access to arms and ammunition to match the criminal element.

“We also call for prison reform involving deep and meaningful consultation with the Prison Officers’ Association, as they are the ones who deal with the criminals every day. We know it is easy for someone to call a shot from prison. Of course, those discussions should involve the executive of the Estate Police Association. All the elements should come together to ensure we should have proper prison reform.”

Roget said doing nothing to fight the crime situation is not an option.

Also present at the conference, which began 40 minutes late, were representatives of the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union, the Postal Workers’ Union, the Aviation Communication and Allied Workers Union, the Amalgamated Workers’ Union, and the Industrial, General and Sanitation Workers Union.