15 October 2014 On the second day of a conference on the theme of Restorative Justice, Chief Justice Ivor Archie said current methods of dispensing justice have proved ineffective.
"We now seem almost incapable of having civil and restrained discourse," Archie said. "I can see no way forward for this society unless we make a choice to practice forgiveness actively. It is the only way out of the climate of conflict and anger that now pervades our psyche."
The Chief Justice’s remarks came one day after President Anthony Carmona said harsh penalties were not working and called for greater involvement of victims and the persons affected by crime within the system of criminal justice.
The Chief Justice said the lack of inclusion of victims in the process contributed to the problem. Archie said, "If there is anything that fuels the antisocial behaviour, gang warfare and tit for tat killings it is a general sense of being victimised, whether by the state, another gang, abusive or absent parents or any one of a number of triggers coupled with the anger, hopelessness, alienation and unforgiveness that drives some to believe that the only way they can get a sense of validation is by striking back or striking out."
He called for restorative justice, saying it could repair the harm caused by crime.
9 October 2014 Yachties are threatening to pull out of T&T because they claim immigration officers are demanding fees — as much as $3,000 — to extend their stay if they wanted to complete repairs to their yachts. They come to T&T from all over the world to have their boats repaired, because they say T&T is one of the best dry docks in the Caribbean. Many businesses along the western peninsula benefit from yachties’ business.
Speaking on Tuesday, a boat owner, said he was approached to pay a bribe for an extension but refused. He said his fellow yachties were becoming more and more frustrated and planned to leave the island, never to return. "In 2008 when I came there were 3,000 yachts here. When we are here we create employment for about 500 people. In 2010-2012 there was a significant decline to about 1,000 boats," the retiree said.
Minister of National Security Gary Griffith recommended to all yachties not to pay bribes for extensions. He said they should immediately contact Chief Immigration Officer Gerry Downer or himself personally and report the immigration officers.
30 September 2014 T&T is at risk if claims by Desperlie Crescent, Laventille, residents that law enforcement officers executed three people last Thursday, People’s National Movement leader Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday. He made the comment after residents gave him more information, including over 18 spent shells from the crime scene, as he toured the community yesterday. The community has been tense since the killing of reputed gang leader Dillon “Bandy” Skeete, 30, Joel Tash, 22 and Tremaine Thomas—a Jamaican national—were shot dead in an attack on Thursday.
After getting first-hand information from residents yesterday, Rowley said he was of the view that the police were not handling the matter properly. "This matter warrants a very thorough investigation, not only of the killings but of what happened after," he said.
He said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, National Security Minister Gary Griffith and acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams must be made aware that "something very terrible has happened in Laventille and it requires a very thorough, conclusive investigation." "If we never determine what happened here, we are far worst off than we were last Thursday morning," Rowley said.
25 September 2014 The U.S. Department of State considers crime in Trinidad and Tobago to be rated at a Critical level. Crime is the principal threat to visitors.
While overall criminal activity decreased in 2013, according to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) crime statistics, the murder rate increased. Violent crime is a concern for local security services and the general population.
The majority of violent criminal activity (i.e., homicides, kidnappings, assaults, sexual assaults, etc.) in Trinidad is gang/drug related or domestic in nature.
Most crimes are crimes of opportunity. American citizens have been victims of pickpocketing, assault, theft/robbery, fraud, and murder. However, there is no evidence to indicate that foreigners, specifically expatriate communities, are targeted in particular. Crimes, to include robbery, break-ins/burglary, vehicular break-ins, home invasions, and assaults (including sexual assaults), regularly occur in areas where expatriates live and congregate.
Many crimes go unreported. Further, there are instances in which crimes are reported but not documented. Most reported crimes occur within the metropolitan areas of Port of Spain and San Fernando. Approximately 18 percent of reported crimes result in an arrest.
As for the sister-island of Tobago, murder, home invasion, petty theft, and swindling, including theft of large sums of cash and passports from hotels rooms, affect tourists. Several violent home invasions targeted well-to-do villas sometimes rented to tourists.
Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) osac.gov
17 September 2014 Speaking to members of Parliament yesterday, T&T National Security Minister, Gary Griffith,claimed serious crime had dropped by 38 percent in T&T and crime levels are now at a 30 year low. He also claimed that of the 407 murders in 2013, 250 were gang-related. Griffith said breaking up criminal gangs in T&T is "the last piece of the puzzle" and that increased police and Defence Force patrols were key to the decrease in crime. He defended the police and Defence Force against criticism that they have been murdering civilians. Griffith denied charges that there were plans afoot to militarize the police. He asserted Laventille is now the safest it has been in years and boasted that people throughout the Twin Island Republic are complaining of seeing too many police vehicles with flashing blue lights. Regarding the complaints, Griffith proclaimed, "Expect to see a lot more very soon because we intend to turn this place into a blue-light district. We intend to put as many police vehicles and patrols all over this country to ensure that we take away the perception and fear of crime. That is our objective."
TnTWarning confirms that since the crackdown on crime began in late July, murders have dropped to 36 total in August 2014 as compared to 44 total for August 2013. To date in September 2014 there have been 8 murders, while on the same date in 2013 there were 24.
Before the crackdown, the number of total monthly murders in 2014 consistently exceeded totals for the same month in 2013. July and April of 2014 were especially deadly.
Let's hope the positive trend continues into the future.
6 September 2014 Murder was the leading cause of death among adolescent boys in the year 2012, according to a report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which was released this week. The report, entitled, Hidden in Plain Sight: A Statistical Analysis of Violence Against Children, finds that in that year, more boys died from homicide than from communicable and non-communicable diseases. The report states Trinidad and Tobago was among seven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where homicide was the leading cause of death among adolescent boys. About 45 percent of deaths were due to homicides. About 35 percent were due to disease. About 20 percent were due to intentional and unintentional injuries. The country was an exception to the general rule that in jurisdictions with high incomes, the child homicide rate was low. The number of homicide victims among children and adolescents aged 10 to 19 years per 100,000 for this country was 12, the tenth highest in the Latin American and Caribbean grouping.
27 August 2014 A father and son who were murdered last week in St Helena Village, Piarco were laid to rest yesterday following a funeral service. (Read More) A desperate attempt was made to locate the killer who, police said, calmly walked back to his car and sped off, but up to last night there were no arrests. Rev Dave Alleyne [of Flaming Word Ministry], who conducted the homily, afterwards said he likened 2014 Trinidad and Tobago to 1930s Chicago. He said that an elite force [like the FBI's historic Untouchables] is needed to be created in order to "break the back" of the criminal element. He also said "The police are unable to do it by themselves and that families as well as the judicial system needed to do their part." Alleyne said that religious teaching needed to be done and that "There was a time you can get away from man, but you cannot get away from God."
25 August 2014 Attorneys representing Attorney General Anand Ramlogan yesterday produced a certified affidavit from Google Inc which they claim invalidates the entire emailgate scandal. They now intend to find the conspirators who were responsible for the "diabolical, evil and wicked plot" aimed at destroying the Government. Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley is to be sued for his role in the fiasco. On May 20 last year, Rowley presented a series of purported e-mails to the Parliament which, he said, implicated the Prime Minister, Attorney General and Local Government Minister in "high crime", "misbehaviour of public office" and a massive cover-up. Ramlogan said Google provided all the e-mails between himself and Persad-Bissessar during September 2012 when the emailgate correspondence occurred. He said none of those e-mails sent by Google corresponded to the claims made by Rowley. Senior Counsel Pamela Elder said the e-mails provided by Rowley were forged. "In essence... they do not exist."
22 August 2014 A Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) student who flew to the Big Apple to start a new school year arrived at her dorm in Manhattan, opened her suitcase — and discovered 10 pounds of cocaine inside, police sources said. The baffled 21-year-old made the stunning discovery after an airplane flight on Friday as she moved into the room and quickly called cops, police sources said. "She said she had no idea how it got there," a police source said. The freaked fashionista handed over the four packages of blow — which had a street value of $150,000, police sources said. The woman had just flown from Trinidad and Tobago to JFK Airport — leading authorities to believe a smuggler may have planted the stash in the wrong suitcase, a Port Authority source said. Corrupt custom officials, baggage handlers or airport workers — in both the Caribbean and New York — may have teamed up on a scheme to use her as an unwitting drug mule, a Port Authority source said. The smugglers may have flubbed the plan by failing to unload the drugs in New York, the Port Authority source said. "Smugglers play the odds... It has been done before to travelers especially in countries where there's heavy narco-trafficking," the Port Authority source said.
19 August 2014 It seemed unusual that a woman and man caught smoking cigarettes at a bar in Marabella, were brought to court yesterday in handcuffs for violating the no-smoking law. Shantel Ali Bocus, 20, of Princes Town and Marvin Trotman, 35, of San Fernando were charged separately under the Tobacco Control Act which has been in force since February 2010. Both were charged by constable Devon Meah and pleaded guilty. They were held last Saturday at Kansas City Recreational Club at Southern Main Road, Marabella, and charged with holding or smoking a tobacco product in an enclosed public place. Bocus, the mother of a three-month-old son, was also charged with resisting arrest. She was fined $1,500 ($237 USD) for smoking and $750 ($118 USD) for resisting the officer in the execution of his duty. In default of paying both fines in eight weeks, Ali Bocus will serve three months in prison. Trotman, a labourer, told Diop he was highly intoxicated and "wasn't in my clear head... I was wrong". The father of two, who had a previous conviction for possession of marijuana, was fined $3,000 ($473 USD). He was given four weeks to pay the money or he will serve four months in prison.
16 August 2014 Having developed a reputation for being a no-nonsense crime fighter, Central Division head Senior Superintendent Johnny Abraham repeated his warning to criminals to stay away from Central. He made the statement moments after police officers, on Thursday night, shot and killed two armed bandits who earlier robbed a Couva woman of her van valued at $250,000 ($39,500 USD). It is alleged that the men, in their attempt to evade capture, fired upon the police officers who responded to the robbery report. Abraham said: "I warn wrongdoers to stay away from Central please. But if they do come and they commit a crime, they must surrender peacefully. Once they engage my officers, we are going to deal with them decisively and I have been saying from time and time again. Some people take heed and they stay away. Others didn't." One of the men killed has been identified as Beresford Asson of Sangre Grande while the other man is yet to be identified.
15 August 2014 The number of confirmed cases of chikungunya virus (ChikV) has increased to 22 with over 60 cases suspected, says Health Minister Fuad Khan. He said the virus could only be developed if the mosquitoes were given breeding grounds to survive. It was first confirmed that chikungunya had entered the country in early July, when the Health Ministry reported three cases. Before then, the virus had been making its way through 26 other Caribbean countries.
8 August 2014 The Cabinet yesterday approved a note on the implementation of a national ban on shark-finning, following a report that T&T ranks sixth worldwide in terms of the volume of shark fins supplied to Japan. Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj said this raised flags on an international level and questioned the sustainability of the country's fishing industry if this was occurring. Maharaj noted that T&T was a signatory to many internationally binding agreements on conservation and trade of biodiversity and in light of the destructive effects of shark-finning to populations and the vulnerability of sharks to over-exploitation, it was imperative for this practice to be banned. T&T is the first country in the Caribbean to put such a ban in place.
5 August 2014 If there were such thing as a perfect beach, Maracas Bay would be it. The beach's tall, towering palm trees -- set against dramatic rainforest cliffs -- make this Trinidad's most popular strip of sand. For the truly adventurous, there's also one of the world's most famous sandwich shops: Richard's Bake and Shark, a regional dish with a cult-following made from deep-fried shark stuffed into fried dough. Yum, right? Shark or no shark, Maracas Bay is a stellar place to relax. Take a look!
20 July 2014 Hundreds of young people took to the streets of Port-of-Spain yesterday to march against escalating crime plaguing Trinidad and Tobago. Young people from various churches and organisations began their march from Adam Smith Square in Woodbrook and converged at Woodford Square, downtown for a day of prayer and praise, calling on youth to put down their guns. Jovon George, youth president at Woodbrook Pentecostal Church and chairman of the Positive Movement Planning Committee stated, "All these negative things that are taking place are not normal. We don't want to get accustomed to having three and four people being murdered over one weekend. We want to get accustomed to living life."
15 July 2014 A military manhunt for a man who soldiers say can help them solve the murder of their colleague Kayode Thomas led to drama on the doorstep of Guardian Media Ltd yesterday. The suspect, identified as Dillon "Bandy" Skeete, agreed to meet with a T&T Guardian reporter yesterday at around 4 pm. A series of incidents took place shortly before the meeting. During the interview, Skeete claimed he was being hunted across the country by soldiers and feared for his life. As the interview was ending, about 20 minutes later, an unidentified man telephoned the T&T Guardian operator and said there was a bomb in the building. By then Skeete had left the building. A senior soldier then telephoned an editor saying he had heard a man who soldiers were looking for was in the building. The bomb scare delayed the CNC3 7 pm newscast and affected the Crime Watch programme and other media operations. Skeete's lawyer said his client was able to elude the military dragnet and made it to a safe location.
14 July 2014 Statistically, young people have been in the majority when it comes to violent crime whether as victim or perpetrator. This was the view of Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams in response to the number of teenagers who have been gunned down for the year. To date, out of 233 people murdered for 2014, 19 have been under the age of 20. However, Williams said, "A lot of murders during the years have involved young people. Young people are the victims, and perpetrators. That population group is the most vulnerable." Williams said the police and society have a challenge with young people being involved in violent crimes. He said the Police Service is concerned about the situation but there is nothing unexpected about young people being perpetrators or victims. Commenting on the fear citizens are feeling as the murder toll rises, Williams said, "Every single violent act such as a shooting or murder brings with it fear. Until as a society we can address the violence, there will be fear."
13 July 2014 Former hostages of the 1990 attempted coup believe T&T's National Security agencies should be on the alert as a result of the climate of uneasiness pervading the land—rising murder toll, gang warfare, labour unrest and poor governance. They also feel that the authorities should take action against Fuad Abu Bakr, son of Jamaat leader Yasin Abu Bakr, for beating and dragging an effigy of the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader through the streets of Port-of-Spain. Seventh-Day Adventist pastor Clive Dottin agreed that the country was in a "fragile state" and the beating of the bobolees sent a "dangerous signal that security can be breached at any time." Former hostage, Wendell Eversley, said the upsurge in murders and gang warfare was a clear sign that all was not well in T&T. He said criminals were getting too restless, and there was an uneasy feeling pervading the land with government offices shutting down, unions staging protests, and poor governance. "We are heading down a dangerous road." Asked if he was fearful of another coup attempt, Eversley said, "yes."
1 July 2014 While there has been an increase in domestic travel to Tobago, there has been a 75-80 per cent drop in international arrivals and this is not sitting well with Hotel and Tourism Association president Christopher James. James said this decrease, coupled with the low detection rate in relation to crime in Tobago, is a recipe for a disaster. "We know that Virgin (Airlines) pulled out for two reasons—the airport and the other reason was the lack of choice of hotels, and the lack of quality hotels. So we're emphasising we need four-star and above hotels, and the only way we're going to get that is with some guarantee from the Government that we are serious about tourism." He said the low crime detection rate needs to be looked at, in terms of the impact on the tourism industry. "We need the crime detection rate to be increased. Crime has two problems in Tobago, it has the social problem it has all over the world, but it also has the economic," said James.
28 June 2014 Rajaee Ali, coordinator of the LifeSport programme in Carapo, is the main suspect in the murder of Dana Seetahal SC, Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert said yesterday. He was speaking on a motion asking the House to censure Sport Minister Anil Roberts for facilitating the funding of criminals and criminal enterprise through the LifeSport Programme. He also called on Government to fire Ali from the programme. Imbert noted that in an interview National Security Minister Gary Griffith described Ali as a "don" and "the godfather", who has been named in most of the murders in Arouca, Maloney, D'Abadie and O'Meara. "The same man! The same man who was charged for murder, who escaped from prison, bribing a prison guard, the same man that police described in 2007 as armed and dangerous. This same man is hired to run the Carapo arm of the Life Sport programme. And that is the man the Minister of National Security was talking about when he said that LifeSport was financing criminals," Imbert added. Rajaee Ali is signing contracts in the Ministry of Sport, going in and out of the Ministry of Sport as if he own the place, collecting money under LifeSport for one year... "I hope the Minister of National Security has fired this individual and removed him from the programme," Imbert said.