“It is against certain Members of Parliament and again, I will leave it at that, because I don’t want to interfere with any police investigation…”
That statement from National Security Minister Stuart Young today, as he confirmed that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service are pursuing investigations into certain Members of Parliament, who are believed to have ties in the criminal underworld and are cooperating with persons of interest.
He says up to this weekend, he was given information about politicians who have been suspected of having criminal links.
It’s something he said the police service should investigate.
The national security minister himself admits to being approached by questionable characters and persons of interest.
“I have had it happen in my constituency, where persons of interest to the police have asked to meet and I have refused,” he stated.
Just last week Minister Young revealed there are certain people who have been using crime to cause fear and panic among the population, in a bid to destabilize the country.
Unfazed by criticisms levelled at him by members of the Opposition and political analysts, Minister Young says he stands by his statement at last Thursday’s Post Cabinet Media Briefing.
“I have the information,” the minister revealed. “I said the police service provided that information and they have assured me that they are actively investigating it. The police commissioner and I will be meeting shortly and this is one of the items I will be discussing with him.”
And Minister Young says he is quite prepared to go before any Parliamentary Committee if called to do so…
“I am very clear about what I’m doing and what I have said,” he states. “I am more than prepared to go before any Joint Select Committee of the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament and provide whatever information I have in my possession.”
2019 ended as the second bloodiest year in this country’s history, having recorded 539 murders. Minister Young indicates that 70 per cent of these murders were gang related.
However, official police figures show that 194 of the 539 murders last year were gang related and only 69 persons have been charged.
Already for the year, there have been over 20 homicides.
The national security minister insists this is a problem many countries continue to battle.
He observes that many of the illegal guns arriving on T&T’s shores are coming from North America and are extremely high-powered. He says that’s why the Bail Amendment Bill is needed, which will see firearm offenders denied bail for up to 120 days.
“The Opposition are the ones who are standing in the way of that,” Minister Young argues. “The Opposition are saying—including the Leader of the Opposition—that this is too draconian. You can’t allow this to happen. But these firearms are created for war.”
He adds: “Look at the most recent serious shootings, on 31 December last year, and the shootings last week. When we found the firearms being used, they turned out to be these very sophisticated assault weapons. Does any civic minded citizen of Trinidad and Tobago want to see these firearms out and about?”
As for the anti-gang legislation, the minister says it is constantly being employed by the authorities who have been able to net some “big fish” in the underworld.
Going forward, Minister Young says he plans to meet with the various chambers and other stakeholders to hear their concerns and proposals about the crime problem.
He also reports that new crime-fighting techniques will be employed, but chooses not to divulge the specifics.
Story by BAVITA GOPAULCHAN