Express Editorial : Daily

With each passing day the Andrea Bharatt kidnap/murder case is exposing for public viewing the cancerous condition of the criminal justice system. Yesterday, the Forensic Science Centre, a critical component of the system, joined the growing list of institutions now on public trial.

The finding of a second, privately-financed autopsy that Ms Bharatt died from blunt force trauma to the head challenges the credibility of the initial autopsy conducted by the facility. While we make no judgment about either autopsy, we are in no doubt about the devastating impact these conflicting autopsies will have on public confidence in the Centre’s operations as well as on a potential trial, assuming charges are laid. The future of this murder case may now rest on a third autopsy conducted under independent and professional supervision.

One agency to show some responsiveness to the public’s concerns is the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) which announced yesterday the opening of three investigations, including into the deaths of suspects Andrew Morris and Joel Balcon while in police custody. We commend the PCA for also taking up the issue of the alleged failure by police officers to “prosecute, tender evidence and attend court”. Presumably, this arises out of the report that many of the 70 charges against Balcon were dismissed due to the non-appearance of police officers in court.

The third investigation is into matters related to Saturday’s arrest of DSS founder Kerron “Preeze” Charles who had to seek medical treatment while in police custody.

While the PCA is to be commended for its responsiveness in these matters of intense public interest, we are cautioned by the fact that it had to close 365 cases last year due to, among other things, the failure of witnesses to come forward.

While both the PCA and the Commissioner of Police have recognised the need to engage the public on the issues associated with the Andrea Bharatt case, we are stunned by the invisibility of other high officeholders who carry substantial responsibility for the operations of the criminal justice system.

We point specifically to Chief Justice Ivor Archie who is responsible for ensuring the effective operation of the court system. By now, an accountable Chief Justice would have responded to the public outcry over Balcon’s rap sheet which threw the spotlight on the court’s perceived failure to protect the citizenry from a man on 70 charges of rape, kidnapping and theft. The CJ has had nothing to offer for the past week as the country consumed itself with anger over the role of the courts in allowing Balcon to be at large.

This issue is pushing a large segment of the population to the view that bail should be denied to persons charged with rape which would take T&T to a step beyond the Bail Amendment Act, 2019 which made rape a non-bailable for persons previously convicted of rape.

In this regard we commend the Law Association for recognising its responsibility to join the raging public debate and for clarifying its own position of a number of important issues. This is not a time for silence from those who act on our behalf.

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Due to a glitch, the wrong Raffique Shah column appeared in yesterday’s Sunday Express. The correct column appears below.

The error is regretted.

IF a brush with death is said to prompt man to reflect more deeply on life, then the Covid-19 pandemic that swooped down on mankind last year, cutting a path of death and destruction such as we had never seen in our lifetime, has also triggered deep thinking on the social contracts that exist among governments and the governed, on how societies are structured to sustain inequality, and on altering such arrangements, replacing them with more equitable alternatives.

EVEN as Trinidad and Tobago joins the world in observing International Women’s Day today it is evident that many women are too busy trying to survive and to stay alive to see the relevance of this day to their lives.

Women’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs) raised the consciousness of women to challenge prevailing myths that spousal abuse, rape and sexual abuse were the fault of women. Feminist NGOs forced public political discourses and attitudinal changes in society’s views on domestic violence and violence against women.

For International Women’s Day, ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) Caribbean calls on individuals to #choosetochallenge gender inequality and gender-based violence

ECLAC Caribbean is championing the call to elevate the voices who #choosetochallenge gender-based violence (GBV) and gender inequality, as well as limiting beliefs and attitudes about women’s roles in the home, workplace, and society.

Nearly a year ago, on March 12, 2020, Trinidad and Tobago recorded its first Covid-19 case, marking the arrival of the pandemic to the sister-island nation. The ensuing lockdown and other restrictions protected the lives of the nation. However, while these measures safeguarded the people from the virus, it also took, and indeed, is still taking a heavy toll on the livelihoods of the people who have had to adjust to the new realities.

All over the world, women lead. They lead peace processes, run businesses, establish hospitals and schools. They are presidents of countries and corporate boards. They head international and grassroots organisations, faith-based groups and sports teams, labour and environmental movements, often while caring for their families and communities.