Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 20th 2013 Contents A27
Friday, December 20, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Over six weeks ago, in a letter
headlined Threat to Democracy, I
highlighted the fact that peaceful
protesters were being arrested in
this country, in particular, over issues
that involved fishing and highway
My point was that this amounted
to a threat to our democracy, and
also that this position seemed to be
a new development. This stance is
about the letter of the law and not
To my consternation, a statement
reportedly made by the ag CoP, in ef-
fect says, peaceful protests outside
trade unionism are not permissible
without permission from the police.
The trade union movement, not
unexpectedly has flatly refused to
entertain that position from the ag
CoP. It means that citizens have
been effectively stripped of the right
to peaceful protest, which we all
thought was enshrined in our consti-
tution. In the absence of this exactly
written in, in our constitution or any
other document, we have become
victims of the letter of the law.
This recent stance by the ag CoP,
impinges on four out of the main 13
principles of democracy:
1) Citizens' participation, which in-
cludes the right to protest, among
others such as the right to be in-
formed, to vote and becoming mem-
bers of NGOs.
2) Political tolerance, which says
democratic societies are tolerant of
the rights of others, and the rights of
minorities are protected.
If the majority suppresses the
rights and views of others, democ-
racy is destroyed. Respect for others
and their points of view are required.
3) Control and abuse of power.
Citizens' views are necessary for
controlling the abuse of power and
4) Human rights. Freedom of ex-
pression and movement, association
and assembly are fundamental to a
I strongly object to this recent
trend of picking apart the constitu-
tion to enforce the letter of the law,
instead of subscribing to the spirit of
a democracy. If this be the case, then
the need for constitutional reform is
more urgent than we care to admit.
Ireading yesterday's newspaper a re-
mark attributed to the Chief Justice
where he said that most judgements
were delivered in "reasonable time."
May I, with greatest of respect, sug-
gest that that simply is not good
I recommend for the immediate fu-
ture, the implementation and use of the
I would also recommend for your (the
judiciary, the politicians et al) reading a
recent article by Ralph Maraj entitled
"Not a cent more."
Way to go Ralph. Go to the head of
So many are throwing their
hands up in the air with
the continuing escalation
of homicides, now on a daily
basis, as if they were expecting
Griffith to wave a magic wand
and this type of crime will sud-
denly disappear. But that won t
happen anytime soon.
I think the minister is doing
more than most to counter this
deep-rooted problem, moving
away, from the much-touted,
but failed "more police vehicles
and more police stations"
approach into more pro-active
strategies such as more aggres-
sive policing and presence
directed against gangs and gang
leaders, reactivation of the CSI,
zero tolerance against rogue
cops, police hot line for wit-
nesses, and today, the
in recognition of an important
link in the drug and gun trade
at the centre of criminal activi-
ty.But such strategies can only
do so much, for Griffith is deal-
ing with a deeply entrenched
mindset in the criminal which
assures him that he can get
away with murder, literally,
since the judicial system works
in his favour.
First, it is hardly likely that he
would be caught because of the
now proven incapacity of the
police or out of the prospect of
an unholy alliance with a rogue
cop. And if even he is caught,
witnesses can either be bought,
intimidated or eliminated alto-
gether or he can be a virtual
Robin Hood for an entire com-
munity once he delivers the
goods. Further, if brought to
trial, justice can be delayed or
even denied by legal manoeuvre
as in a recent child murder case
where the prospect of reprieve
is real, or some smart lawyer
can get him off on a technicali-
ty.So the deck is stacked against
Griffith from the start and the
homicide criminal knows this,
hence the brazen, daylight, pub-
lic executions on a daily basis
as if laughing to scorn whatever
the minister may try.
But Griffith s strategies are all
we ve got, at least to create the
illusion that something is being
done, even as we hope that in
the long term, through educa-
tion, preying upon each other
as "monsters of the deep" will
be something of a distant
New cricket season is coming up and
we still have not gotten this "World
Cup Stadium/Tsunami Shelter/multi-pur-
The minister conjured up a figure in
the millions to complete it but I do won-
der if we cannot go another route.
Why not finish the stands that are al-
ready there? Finish the bathrooms, I dare
say renovate them.
Instead of building more infrastructure
just open it as it is.
Use the remaining surroundings as
green banks instead of seats/stands. No
cost will be incurred really.
The playing field is finished, so what is
the big deal?
This should not take more than a
"few" millions in your type of language.
Certainly not the humongous figure you
People are fed up just waiting for re-
sults and for promises to be kept.
Just open it up and let the tax payers
enjoy Manning's dream.
via e mail
Dr Errol Benjamin
Maria Carbo, walks on her knees helped by her daughters as a self-imposed
penance during her pilgrimage to the shrine in El Rincon, near Santiago de las
Vegas, Cuba, Monday. Every year, tens of thousands of Cubans flock to the
shrine to pay homage on the feast of Saint Lazarus, seeking favours from the
religious icon, fused with Catholic and Afro-Cuban figures. He is known on the
island as "the miraculous saint." AP PHOTO
DECK STACKED AGAINST GRIFFITH
Open the Brian Lara Stadium already
Victims of letter of the law
'Reasonable time' not good enough
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