THE public outcry over the death of Andrea Bharatt is at risk of becoming another nine-day wonder. Surely, we know the token promise of pepper spray and passage of the Evidence Amendment Bill, though good, are not enough to address the issues circulating in the public. This is a public emergency; I am doing my bit to refocus on some of the critical questions we need answered. These are questions to key national leaders that I hope others will help in pushing for answers.
• Would you initiate a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition with a view to coming to common positions on crime legislation?
• In light of the recent public outcry and serious anxiety in the country, would you make a comprehensive statement to the country on your Government’s immediate and future plans for national security?
Respectfully, your recent comments on a political platform, do not count as comprehensive.
There is much to talk about: bail reform (if we can’t deny bail, can we not use electronic monitoring devices—ankle bracelets – on repeat offenders?), PH drivers, surveillance cameras, failed Anti-Gang legislation, revised laws for gun crimes and gun possession etc. With the will and Government support an almost fool-proof technological solution to the PH/taxi drivers matter can be done in about three months.
Leader of the Opposition:
• Would you offer to, or agree to, meet with the Prime Minister with an open mind and a willingness to find middle ground in the interest of the women of Trinidad and Tobago?
• Would you commit to put aside opposition tactics on the issue of crime? You frequently cite your credentials as a mother and grandmother. This is a time to make it real.
President Paula-Mae Weekes:
• While I do not know a lot about presidential protocol, as a form of moral suasion would you publicly lend your voice to a call to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to find common ground on the issue of crime?
• Are you concerned, Madam President, about the virtual official silence in spite of the intense anxiety in the country?
• Are you aware that women, in particular, are looking to you to raise some sort of voice to underscore their fears?
Chief Justice Ivor Archie:
• Have you taken a fresh look at the issue of how bail is granted in our courts?
• Are you satisfied that the Judiciary is applying judicial discretion with respect to bail in a manner that protects the public interest?
• Are you aware that serious allegations of a “bail racket” are being widely discussed in the country?
• Have you done or requested an assessment of these allegations?
• Would you make a public statement to assure the public that all is well? As we all know, confidence in the justice system is a cornerstone of our stability as a nation.
Commissioner of Police
• Has there been any review of why police officers do not appear in court in matters where they are involved?
• Are you aware that some members of the public are alleging that police officers are being induced into not appearing in court so that cases will be dismissed?
• Is there now a system in place to ensure that officers consistently appear when necessary?
The Law Association:
• Are you aware that one of the reasons for delays in the criminal justice system is that attorneys take briefs knowing full well they are unavailable to attend court when the matters are called?
• Is this an attempt to maximise fees at the expense of their clients and the justice system?
• Is it ethical for attorneys to accept fees knowing that they will not be able to attend court?
• Are you prepared to take some time off from defending the rights of criminals and address questions about your members?