Saturday, March 9, 2013

Rowley wants witness protection; says precepting soldiers is waste of time

File: Keith Rowley
Keith Rowley told Parliament Friday that government's plan to give soldiers powers of arrest will fail if the state doesn't provide a witness protection program.

The Opposition Leader made the point when he spoke in the debate on the Defence (Amendment) Bill, which Attorney General Anand Ramlogan presented to the House of Representatives. 

Rowley said the crime situation is more likely to get worse if the government doesn't implement measures such as witness protection. He stated that criminals are now committing crimes with the hope that there would be witnesses. He said the intention is so witnesses could be intimidated.

Rowley said it's a waste of time to talk about precepting soldiers when the real issue to discuss is protection for witnesses. He suggested that there could be certain legislative changes to prevent criminals from interfering with witnesses.

“Without witnesses, there will be no criminal justice system. We are at that point in T&T where we are without witnesses,” Rowley declared.

He suggested that under the present system anyone who offers to be a witness is literally sign his or her own "death warrant". 

Rowley stated that one way to deal with the problem is to change the laws to state that anyone who is convicted of interfering with a witness would get a serious jail sentence that "must be equal or more severe than the crime that you committed".

He added, "Until we get to that route, we’re wasting time, Mr Speaker.” 

Rowley also suggested that the government should consider increasing the numbers of municipal police. He also said the police service is failing because it lacks “proper investigative skills and tools to go after criminals, detect the crime and hold the perpetrator.”

He stated: “We have to concede that the Police Service is not up to the job at this time,” adding that the service could be strengthened without using soldiers as police.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai