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Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, speaks in Parliament yesterday.

Renuka Singh

The United National Congress (UNC) will reintroduce the Ministry of Justice and increase the military retirement age from 47 as part of their crime-fighting initiative.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced this yesterday during her contribution to a private motion to “condemn the Government for its failure to deal with rampant crime.”

Persad-Bissessar also said she plans to bring back the Ministry of the People, and establish a Ministry of Home Affairs to help reduce the rising crime rate.

After listing the failed crime plans implemented by the Keith Rowley administration she added: ” I could continue with this, with the rebuttals and the rebuttals, but this blame game will get us nowhere.

“Does the Government have a plan to fight crime? But I’m listening to him (National Security Minister Stuart Young) and it’s the same old, same old. This Government is not about preventing crime, it is about locking up people,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar said Government had insinuated that the Opposition was deliberately blocking legislation to deal with crime.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she said.

She said a previous administration brought in 130 foreigners, paid them more money than the locals to run Special Anti-Crime Unit of T&T (SAUTT) and the body was illegal which is why she disbanded it when she took office.

“You were paying these foreigners and the crime was not going down. In fact, it was going up,” Persad-Bissessar said.

She added: “You seem to think that anyone we talk to is a criminal, but I don’t know about any family member who may be a criminal,” she said, throwing talk for Young.

Persad-Bissessar said despite what the Government said, the Opposition supported eight crime-fighting bills. She said that the Opposition refused to support some bills, without amendments, because they gave access to people being set up.

“So we have to guard citizens to make sure their rights are not violated and that is why we cannot afford to support your bills as they are,” she said.

She also criticised National Security Minister Stuart Young and the Government for claiming that the UNC was afraid to support crime-fighting bills because they would get caught up in it.

“The only thing I’m afraid of is that you would get back into government,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar, who also denied that the Opposition was afraid to pass the Interception of Communication Bill, added: “We brought it and we gave three officers the power to apply for warrants, etc. Now you come here and tell me that bill is before the Senate, it is not yet before us and talks about interception from prisoners in the bars and so on, but that is not what that bill is about.”

She said t other provisions in that legislation would affect private citizens, including media practitioners.

“They are not telling the whole truth. It is going to damage everybody,” she said.

The Opposition Leader said a Strategic Services Agency (SSA) 2017 report talked about “283,000 intercepts being made”.

“That is just maccoing because it cannot be used in court,” she said.