Saturday Express Editorial

FROM neighbouring Guyana comes a novel idea which may be found to be useful and adaptable to our local considerations in the operations of the Trinidad and Tobago justice system.

We refer to the operations of court houses on site at prison facilities in different parts of the country. It is just one of the many ways in which varied developments among our Caricom neighbours are not afforded sufficient comparative attention in other regional jurisdictions.

In our own situation, there continues to be much loud discussion among major players, most prominent among them the Prisons Officers Association, about the delays involved, and the costs incurred, with the privatised prison transportation system. “Justice on Time”, as its slogan proclaims, has come in for loud, constant and increasing criticism by such stakeholders such of the private sector operators who have built up significant presence through this arrangement.

Whether or not the costs have been sufficiently analysed to confirm the comparisons which have been made, and whether or not the other elements of the arrangement make for greater efficiency, a new development in the Co-operative Republic presents itself for conscientious local consideration.

The authorities there have found a way to utilise containers disposed of as no longer needed for shipping. Such material for infrastructure conversion has been put to use in two instances thus far, providing courtroom facilities on site at prison compounds.

Starting at the Lusignan prison in Demerara and at the Camp Street Prison in the capital, Georgetown, some 18 containers have been retrofitted for reuse as courtrooms, employing existing advanced technology.

By this means, the expense and trouble of transporting prisoners from their cells to court houses in different parts of the country have been rendered unnecessary. Magistrates will not need to be physically present at these locations, which are equipped with flat screen monitors, internet connectivity and chairs for inmates. This immediately removes the drama and unnecessary excitement of vehicles moving at break-neck speed, with sirens blaring, along often congested roadways.

Bringing the courts to the prisoners marks a creative advance in enabling judicial hearings sooner, rather than later. Perhaps also, it presents a telling advantage, in this the age of minimising the potential spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Speaking on this element of the pluses seen in this development, Guyana’s Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, said “it will protect the prisoners, the police officers and the court staff in this regard.” As it stands at the moment, our own experience with this issue needs no new re-telling. And not having to physically be on site, judges will also remain safe from possibly contacting the virus in this manner.

This initiative, creatively and commendably considered and implemented by our Caricom neighbour to the south, presents itself to us, as one to be emulated. For one thing, we have no shortage of spare containers capable of being converted for such purposes. In addition, in this age of widely expanding virtual communication it should be possible for all the critical players and decision-makers to follow the proceedings in Guyana online, and to determine such adaptations as may prove necessary in our own circumstances.

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THE effort that has been put by the Ministry of Health in managing the Covid-19 pandemic now needs to be put into fixing the national public health system.

In responding to the global pandemic, the Government and public health managers have shown that when required they can summon the will, skill and resources to confront a major public health challenge. Yet, they seem chronically unable to address the health system’s basic needs.

IN one of her recent speeches, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said she had been attending meetings on the Estimates. That was a stark reminder that even while dealing with the Covid-19 virus, the business of governance still has to go on and Cabinet still does much business apart from managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

Your recent editorials around the coronavirus have been both thoughtful and appropriate.

The policy of allowing international travel only with a ministerial exemption is inequitable and unsustainable. Clearly a new policy based on vaccination, tests and quarantines is badly needed to allow the airport to reopen.

Some few of us appear to lack the same amount of care for the lives of Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) and Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) children as expressed for the plight of young Venezuelan illegals.

I would like to express my gratitude to Judy Kublalsingh for her column “Hypocritical Democrats” in the Express on Thursday (Page 13). Amidst the cheap rhetoric masquerading as political analysis, it was refreshing to see such level-headed discourse from someone among the local intelligentsia.

Please have pity on our doctors and nurses (our heroes). Over the past few months I have been speaking to two friends, one a doctor, the other a nurse. In each case on enquiring about “how they were doing?”, their response invariably was, “Tired!”

I write this in the context of numerous reports of breaches of the Covid-19 Health Regulations, especially the non-wearing of masks and the urge to gather at fetes.