Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 24th 2014 Contents A11
Thursday, July 24, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Columnist Clarence Rambharat says he will deal
with Community Development Minister Winston
Peters, once nominated to represent constituents
of Mayaro for the PNM.
He made the announcement on the PNM platform
in St Augustine on Tuesday night. He said he expected
criticism for his decision which comes less than a
year from the 2015 general election.
He added: "I am my own boss. When Anand Ram-
logan wrote in the Guardian and then decided to
join the COP platform he didn t ask my permission.
"When Herbert Volney was screened when he was
on the Bench and skid off the Bench and landed in
the community of St Joseph nobody asked my per-
Independent Senator Helen Drayton
has labelled the Miscellaneous Provi-
sions (Prisons) Bill a pretence and said
she remained doubtful it could make
a difference in the treatment of juvenile
In the Senate on Tuesday she called
for urgent attention to be paid to the
death of 14-year-old Brandon Harg-
reaves, who died in April at the St
Michael s Home for Boys.
A preliminary report on operations
at the home revealed he was beaten to
death. The bill intends to establish a
body corporate, to be known as the
Inspectorate of Prisons, and mandates
the inspectorate to investigate and report
to the minister on the treatment of pris-
oners and young offenders.
"This bill is a pretence at doing some-
thing. As long as prisoners are still taking
out their pails and as long as the workers
in those prisons have to endure those
conditions, it is a pretence. It is a smoke-
screen," said Drayton.
She said the country needed people
who were properly trained and who had
the emotional intelligence to understand
they were dealing with human beings.
She added: "I remain doubtful that
this body corporate would make any
difference in the treatment of juvenile
"Anything that has to be done to
improve the lot of those children can
be done without this legislation. Any-
thing that has to be done to fix the envi-
ronmental conditions within the prisons
can be done without this. We know
what the problems are."
Drayton said she was not against
bringing modern and up-to-date leg-
"What I am saying is that we don t
seem to get our priorities right," she
She said someone should be held
accountable for the inhumane treatment
of children at St Michael s Home, where
they are supposed to be protected and
rehabilitated. Drayton called on the Gov-
ernment to set aside in the upcoming
budget funds for a state-of-the-art cen-
tre and buy the talent needed and use
it as a model with respect to children.
"This bill could do nothing to unplug
the pipeline of children entering the
rooms of crime," she warned.
She said the Young Offenders Act
facilitated punishment with a rod of
between nine and 18 lashes, and up to
18 by the Inspector of Prisons.
"One may say that probably it isn t
used but that is not the story coming
out of this home for boys. In today s
world, corporal punishment does not
have the same meaning as it did years
"Today it is a cuff, it is a kick, with
a broom or with a planass on children
by frustrated, over-the-top, out-of-con-
trol single mothers and other callous
adults like those at the St Michael s
School for Boys," she said.
Drayton noted that Government had
promised $250,000 to renovate children s
homes but the adult prisons were also
She said: "Prisoners still use pails in
the 21st-century... just imagine the smells
and the conditions.
"For prisoners that is one thing but
it is also the workers who have to endure
those conditions, so if those workers
come tomorrow and down tools, this
very Government would say it s not
health and safety issues, it is wages they
are looking for, and the public who are
inconvenienced will turn around and
say they are heartless.
"But unless they did that, there would
be no improvement.
"Those are the conditions, workers,
employees of the State have to endure
24/7 and who cares? Not the Govern-
ment, not the previous Government
because they have done nothing about
Bill a pretence
"When nominations are called for I will accept
your nomination and if the screening committee
decides, I will deal with Gypsy in Mayaro. I believe
the people of Mayaro are smart enough."
Rambharat said the tipping point which prompted
his return to a political platform related to the Life
Sport programme and grass-cutting contracts.
A daily newspaper revealed earlier this month that
several people, including a sports journalist at another
daily newspaper, were receiving contracts worth
$200,000 to cut grass as part of the programme.
He told the crowd: "I am very familiar with grass-
cutting and you are very familiar with the UWI (Uni-
versity of the West Indies) building.
"That big grounds opposite UWI administration
building cost $800 a month to cut."
Rambharat said he was not anti-government, as
he was called in the new pro-government newspaper,
The Voice, but said he was anti-wastage and anti-
"I believe the people of this country have reached
"I have written and used the keyboard but I could
also talk and I am prepared to talk and talk and talk
and there are people out there who are afraid to talk
and I will tak for them because in politics, silence
is consent," he added.
Rambharat praised the PNM for its commitment
to introduce whistle-blower legislation once the party
returned to office.
"We need whistle-blowers legislation now," Ramb-
harat said as one of the audience members blew a
Rambharat spoke about corruption within state
companies, telling the crowd he had been told by a
whistle-blower that Caroni 1975 Limited had been
sued by a high-ranking executive employee for $12
Instead of being terminated, he said the employee
retained his $40,000 a month salary and was moved
to a newly-formed state enterprise, Caroni Green
Ltd, with a $150,000 severance package.
He said those were examples of the corruption
taking place within the People s Partnership Gov-
Newspaper columnist Clarence Rambharat, right, is embraced by a PNM supporter after the party's public
meeting in St Augustine on Tuesday night. PHOTO: CLYDE LEWIS
to deal with Gypsy
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