PM concerned some anti-crime measures are failing

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A policeman at the crime scene where Hakeem Thomas was shot dead near Bethany Eco Mart in Mt Pleasant, Tobago on Tuesday. – David Reid

WITH the murder toll now at 211, the Prime Minister said he is concerned that some of the measures in place to curb crime are failing.

Speaking at a media conference at the Prime Minister’s official residence, St Ann’s on Tuesday, Dr Rowley said despite this, the country should be thankful for the efforts of the police and other agencies, hinting that it could have been worse.

Asked if the systems in place were failing, Rowley said: “Some things are failing; we have to find out what is failing and where the failure is taking place. Certainly what is happening now cannot be accepted as the norm and cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely.”

The PM added that he regularly meets with the National Security Council as well as heads of security agencies and efforts have not been able to put an end to the trend. He said there is solace in the fact that law enforcement does get some results pointing out the seizures of illegal guns,

“I have had serious concerns and continue to have them. I can’t say more because I am constrained,” he said adding there will come a time when he can say more and the country will know why he was concerned.

Rowley’s comments come on the day the National Security Ministry announced that the extension of time for Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher.

The top cop is mandated by law to retire at 60 but can get three one-year extensions by Cabinet. The ministry in a media release on Tuesday said the first extension was given as Harewood-Christopher turns 60 next Monday.

Asked about National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds’s comment that criminals have friends in the Judiciary, Rowley dismissed it saying interpretations are subjective and personal.

Asked what he interpreted the comment to mean, Rowley said he was not an interpreter and he understood what was said.

Last Saturday Hinds, who was invited to appear before High Court judge Devindra Rampersad “to clarify” his comment said he was seeking legal advice before appearing.

On May 5 Rampersad invited Hinds to appear before him on Wednesday specifying that he was not obligated to do so. The invitation is to an in-camera hearing with attorneys in the case of Brent Thomas who sued the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions over a breach of his constitutional rights and criminal charges.

Rampersad permanently stayed the criminal charges and ruled that Thomas’ constitutional rights were infringed, stating he was “abducted” from Barbados and returned to TT to face criminal charges.

The Barbados attorney general Dale Marshall on Tuesday denied an criminality in the detention of Thomas who was held and returned to Trinidad based on a request from the TT Police Service.