Mexico has asked Caricom to join its legal fight to hold US gun manufacturers and distributors responsible for the crime mayhem their weapons of destruction have been used to unleash in some countries – and T&T is actively considering the request.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley indicated this last night at the People’s National Movement’s public meeting at Barataria Community Centre. It was the PNM’s first public meeting for 2023.
On Mexico’s request, Rowley said, “T&T is actively considering that to test the legality of those who make those weapons of war that are destroying our societies – we have to join that fight.”
Rowley said he suspects the proposed legal battle, which will be undertaken in the US courts, is one of the things that will come out of the Caricom Crime Symposium that will be held here in T&T from April 16-17. He noted that he is responsible for national security in the Caricom quasi-Cabinet format.
“If you ask me what I want out of this conference, over and above educating our population, I want Caricom to speak as one voice to our major trading partner – our friend in the north, with one voice to say to them: America must do more to prevent guns from coming from America into our country!”
He said the Mexican government had already undertaken a similar legal fight before and lost in the US court but is prepared to keep it up, but with other sovereign nations affected by the gun scourge, hence the request to Caricom.
Rowley also recognised the Director of Public Prosecutions’ recent complaints of things not going well and lack of staffing. He said Government had found executive offices for the Director of Public Prosecutions division, but after three years there has not been a “footstep inside the office.. and we’re paying millions of dollars in rent…”
“I don’t want to use the words I want to use because that would be telling you too much – but you come and telling me an executive office for a bank is not good for the DPP Office?”
He said there was a three-year contract for this, “paying millions…between the DPP office and TTPS Special Branch … something… went on there.”
“They want bullet-proof glass. Months passing, we put bullet-proof glass in the building…(then) they want a wall… a wall outside the bullet-proof glass… when it reach to the point the landlord say ‘Don’t interfere anymore with my building’.”
He said while it was easy to blame the Government, the latter was simply a series of strands in a fabric and the Cabinet was simply the weaver.
Rowley also accused Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar of lying about the PNM having a smear campaign and slander machine against her party, after the Piarco Three corruption matter against former UNC leader Basdeo Panday, his wife Oma and two others was dropped this week.
He said Persad-Bissessar knew what she was doing, since it could affect other cases. He also accused her of trying to make the Government stop probing white-collar crime.
Saying a case is going on currently in Florida with one of those (Piarco) matters, Rowley asked if Persad-Bissessar was saying the judge should throw it out as it’s “PNM persecution.”
He said the Government was also fighting cases in other places and when a former prime minister told the world that the political party in office had a “smear and slander” campaign and people shouldn’t be held accountable, people should ”… reject that!”
He said the remarks also created the environment to creat more corruption and had a tinge of racism in it.
On the human trafficking allegations against a member of the UNC in the public domain, Rowley said the UNC MP who questioned him about the US 2022 Trafficking in Persons report recently, and who may have wanted to attack a colleague, had only to “turn around” and do that rather than ask him about the report. Noting that one former UNC minister talked about the issue with personal experience and another ex-minister also did so, he said, “If an alligator came out of the rivers and tell you tongue dirty, don’t doubt him…”
Also slamming Persad-Bissessar’s claim to vindication on the Emailgate issue, Rowley recounted the matter, the letter by the assistant DPP on the issue and statements by former People’s Partnership Minister Herbert Volney in Parliament on the issue. Rowley queried how Persad-Bissessar could stain his name.
”It will take a box of Breeze and a scrubbing brush of steel to wash off from that woman what she had done to this country!” he said.
Addressing the recent scourge of school violence and youth involvement in crime, the Prime Minister also appealed for parents to pay attention to their children, saying there are too many who aren’t doing so, leaving them to teachers, the T&T Police Service and Government.