Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 11th 2014 Contents The murder of Dana See-
tahal was met with shock,
dismay and anger by the
decent citizens of our
nation. This heinous mur-
der has forced every pos-
sible voice to speak out against this murder
and all other forms of crime that threaten
the very stability of our society. In the
early part of the 21st century, the pop-
ulation of T&T suffered several levels of unprecedented crime,
from gang related murders to kidnapping and cold-blooded
This development is taking a toll on both the citizenry and
our nation s dedicated law enforcement personnel. Gruesome
and seemingly endless accounts of violence in T&T have
obscured the one notable bright spot and economic powerhouse
in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Why has this been allowed to happen?
Why is crime so prevalent?
Why does the State seem to appear so hopeless?
Successive governments have attempted to put in place
several strategies to deal with this social menace: from Oper-
ation Anaconda, the Special Anti-Crime Unit of T&T (SAUTT),
and the soon-to-be-established Operations Centre. Conse-
quently, the present Government has attempted to introduce
into Parliament several bills that will serve to strengthen the
State s capabilities to manage and even reduce the current
levels of crime.
The two bills that come to the fore are:
1. A Bill entitled an Act to amend the Defence Act 2013,
2. The Bail Amendment Bill 2013
The intent of both bills was to make life difficult for the
criminal elements and also to seek to protect the most vul-
nerable communities within our society. Prior
to the debate on the Defence Act (2013), the
Attorney General made several appeals to all
senators to relate their concerns to him, espe-
cially when it comes to such important mat-
ters pertaining to human rights.
I can recall the debate in the Senate where
prominent criminal attorney Wayne Sturge
made his debut as a temporary government
senator and attempted to explain the merits
of the bill. It is tradition when a parliamentarian is making
his maiden speech, that he be given a bit of latitude.
In this case, however, he was chided on several occasions.
What seems disconcerting, too, was not only did the Opposition
refuse to support the Bill to amend the Defence Act, but the
prevalence of negative attitudes shown by some of the then
independent senators, who openly demonstrated their non-
support for this particular bill. Hence, the bill was withdrawn.
Today, if we had patriotic soldiers present in our streets,
many victims of violent crimes may have had a fighting
chance to survive.
We need to consider the reintroducing of this bill.
The second issue is the reported leakage of a report based
on an investigation into a serious matter that poses a potential
threat to our nation s rule of law and democracy. This report
was being compiled by the Police Complaints Authority but
excerpts of it were published in the media. Also, an opposition
senator discussed some of the contents of the report in Par-
liament, even going on to explain that he received this report
in his mail box.
During the deliberations of a joint-select committee of
Parliament, the citizens of this country were informed by the
head of the Police Complaints Authority that the contents
of the allegedly leaked report were not confidential. Further
to this, the media reported that the Director of Public Pros-
ecutions (DPP) explicitly stated that he prefers to focus on
the contents of the report, rather than how it was leaked.
What is happening to T&T?
Amidst these clouds of uncertainty, one of the voices that
brought clarity, objectivity and sound reasoning was that of
Dana Seetahal. She was not about being sensational nor
unnecessarily critical. She was a towering figure in her own
The time has come for our prime minister to begin engaging
with the population in more meaningful conversations on
critical matters. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has
to rebuild the confidence and faith among our nation s citizens.
Leading from behind is no longer an option. The time to act
In his book, The Quest for Peace, the Cause of Freedom,
former US President Ronald Reagan stated the following:
"I have always tried to speak plainly about the enduring
values upon which this nation was founded: faith in God,
commitment to democracy, the quest for peace, limited gov-
ernment, reliance on the free enterprise system, and an
unyielding belief in human freedom."
Today, we as citizens will have to revisit the values upon
which modern T&T was founded.
The untimely passing of Seetahal is a great loss to our
country. She will be mourned by all of us. She was fair and
fearless, assertive but respectful, intelligent and compassionate
but, most of all, she demonstrated a commitment for preserving
and protecting T&T s democracy. She was patriotic.
Jai Leladharsingh is the assistant manager; workforce
development and business process with the Coosals Group
of Companies. He is also a member of the board of
directors of the Chaguaramas Development Authority. His
e-mails are: Jaishima.email@example.com;
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MAY 11 • 2014
The scourge of crime
Threatening our nation's stability
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