Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 26th 2013 Contents A16
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, June 26, 2013
A High Court judge has sug-
gested that the Firearms Act
should be amended to stop air
rifles and pistols being imported.
Justice Frank Seepersad made
the suggestion in the Port-of-Spain
High Court while delivering a judg-
ment in favour of a firearm dealer.
Suresh Patel s shipment of air pis-
tols was confiscated by former
police commissioner Dwayne
Gibbs in 2011 although Patel had
been granted a firearm import per-
Despite finding in Patel s favour,
Seepersad suggested Patel should
consider not selling the airguns.
In his 12-page judgment, Seep-
ersad said: "It may very well be
that given the state of criminal
activity, such air pistols ought not
to be sold but to prevent same
would require a revision of the
provisions of the Firearms Act by
Parliament and it may be in the
interest of the citizens of T&T if
such an exercise is in fact under-
taken as a matter of urgency."
Despite expressing serious con-
cerns over the proposed sale of the
rifles, Seepersad ruled in favour of
Patel and ordered his shipment of
50 air pistols be released to him.
In his judgment, Seepersad said
Gibbs decision to withhold the
pistols was illegal, null and void
and of no effect. He also ordered
that the office of the Police Com-
missioner should pay Patel s legal
costs for bringing the judicial
Seepersad ruled the air pistols
were not firearms and questioned
the need for a firearm import
licence to import them.
He said: "The air pistols in this
case are not prohibited weapons
and they were imported by Patel,
who, having obtained a firearm
import permit, had an assurance
from the Police Commissioner he
could in fact import the said items."
Patel was granted a firearm
import permit on March 29, 2010.
He imported the rifles and they
were being stored at the police
armoury, St James, until they were
Patel testified that while waiting
for the inspection, he received a
letter on February 1, 2011 from
Gibbs saying the rifles would be
withheld because of national secu-
Gibbs, a Canadian, was appoint-
ed in September 2010 but resigned
almost two years later.
In his evidence, Gibbs contended
the physical configuration of the
pistols would aid in criminal activ-
ity as they were difficult to dis-
tinguish from actual guns.
Patel was represented by Jagdeo
Singh and Larry Lalla while Karen
Fournillier appeared for the Police
Amend the gun act
Judge on 'freeing' firearm dealer:
Minister of National Diversity
and Social Integration Clifton De
Coteau has praised the accom-
plishments of his ministry, saying
he will deliver the kudos if no one
else would. He made the state-
ment on Monday, the first
anniversary of the ministry.
"If no one else is blowing your
trumpet, you have to blow it your-
self," he said.
At a function to recognise the
anniversary, which coincided with
Public Service Day, an international
celebration of public servants, De
Coteau reflected on the past year
and the success of his ministry.
"Happy Public Service Day and
more so happy birthday to us," he
said, as he addressed his staff dur-
ing a toast and cake-cutting cer-
emony at the ministry s office,
Jobco Building, Frederick Street,
"One year ago we embarked on
a new journey to embrace our man-
date of fostering patriotism, unity
and diversity and inclusion in the
hearts and minds of all Trinbago-
nians. Today, one year later, we can
see our achievements," he added.
The ministry was created in June
2012 amid some confusion about
its purpose and scope, as several of
its objectives fell under the Ministry
of Arts and Multiculturalism and
the Office of the Prime Minister.
Last year, De Coteau defended
the ministry s creation, saying Prime
Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar s
decision to set it up sought to ensure
the country was cultivating and
preserving national diversification
and social integration.
"Our year as a ministry has
brought great achievements," he
De Coteau listed the ministry s
successes, including last year s
month of patriotism, the year of
patriotism, which runs until
August this year, distribution of
over 98,000 flags across the coun-
try as part of the "flag in every
home project," and national days
of prayer in schools.
"We can see our ministry being
imprinted on our heritage," he said.
He said the ministry received
approval from Cabinet to reserve
25 acres of land in Blanchisseuse
to establish an Amerindian village
and had done restoration work at
historical sites, including Fort San
Andres, Nelson Island, Royal Vic-
toria Institute and the La Brea
"We have compiled a list of 381
heritage sites... with 20 more sites
to be added," he said.
Khafra Kambon, head of the
Emancipation Support Committee,
said it was hard for him to talk
about whether the ministry was
doing good work.
He said a year ago he was unsure
about the ministry s function.
In a telephone interview on
Monday, Kambon said: "I don t
know enough to make an informed
comment at this time."
De Coteau blows
his own trumpet
Ministry celebrates first anniversary
Staff members look on as permanent secretary in the Ministry of
National Diversity and Social Integration Jacinta Bailey-Sobers blows
out the candle on the anniversary cake to celebrate one year as a
ministry and the commemoration of Public Servants Day at the
ministry's office, Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, on Monday. Also in
picture are Minister Clifton De Coteau and Minister in the Ministry,
Embau Moheni, second from right. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
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