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.

Prime Minister:

• 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?

Gladston Cuffie

via e-mail

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Dear Police Commissioner Griffith,

1. Pathologist Prof Hubert Daisley, in his autopsy report, concluded:

“Injuries to the skull which Andrew S Morris sustained are also fatal. He would have promptly gone into unconsciousness, aspirated and died. He could not have survived for more than 20 minutes with these multiple injuries.”

I’m dreadfully alarmed that there are some 50,000 primary and secondary pupils who have been unable to access remote learning during the past year of “lockdown”.

A double-edged sword.

That is the effect of the Leader of the Opposition calling for Covid-19 vaccines from India, via their Serum Institute of India.

There are benefits to this call, as T&T is on the path to austerity. With revenues barely being able to cover expenditure, including servicing debt, we are genuinely now running on fumes. Import cover at around six months with our US foreign reserves and imminent drawdowns of the HSF—why would we deny ourselves free vaccines?

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) is an ethnically-biased academic institution of teaching and learning.

For three days every year in the multi-ethnic society, the Faculty of Humanities and Education at The UWI in Trinidad has been organising a symposium on Carnival, but not even a half-day annual seminar on the Amerindian Santa Rosa Festival, Hosay, Phagwa, Divali or Ramleela, although Ramleela was proclaimed by UNESCO as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity in 2005.

The world of “high finance”, especially as practised by ministers of finance, continues to baffle me.

How come borrowing money to service your debts a good thing? Aren’t you going to sink deeper into the quicksand? Doesn’t that increase your debt-servicing requirements? Apparently, that’s what smart ministers of finance do.

On the issue of Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s letter to the Indian prime minister for Covid vaccines, I don’t know what the big fuss is about. The two ministers are making a mountain out of a mole hill.