THE staggering increase in Trinidad and Tobago’s murder toll is expected to be brought to the fore “as a matter of urgency” at the next sitting of the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security next month.
On October 25, United National Congress Oropouche East MP Roodal Moonilal and Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial wrote to JSC chairman Keith Scotland requesting an urgent JSC meeting, in light of one of the “deadliest long weekends in recent memory” (October 21-24), when 17 people were murdered.
“We are of the view that it is critical for this committee to interrogate the chairman of the National Security Council, the Minister of National Security, the leadership of the TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service) and the heads of all intelligence-gathering agencies, including the Strategic Services Agency (SSA), as a matter of urgency, in order to ascertain what if anything is being done to curb the spate of senseless killings which has claimed the lives of innocent children and, more importantly, to bring perpetrators to justice,” their letter said.
Scotland responded a day later, via letter, noting that the JSC had intended to examine a related issue at its next sitting.
He reminded that at the last JSC meeting, the committee agreed to conduct “an examination into the factors that contribute to the prevalence of illegal firearms and gun violence in Trinidad and Tobago”.
He noted that a tentative date of October 26 was set for the meeting, subject to receipt of submissions from stakeholders and the availability of members.
“Given the compatibility of the current enquiry with your request, the committee may be willing to consider using this opportunity to interrogate the issues raised in your correspondence at the earliest opportunity,” Scotland wrote.
“Kindly note that the determination of witnesses to appear before the committee is a matter to be considered by the committee,” he added.
Scotland indicated that he had directed the JSC secretariat to circulate Moonilal and Lutchmedial’s correspondence to all JSC members, with a proposal to have their request discussed at the next JSC meeting as a matter of urgency.
Speaking to the Express via telephone yesterday, Scotland said the JSC had received some submissions from stakeholders and was awaiting “a couple others”.
“And we intend to hold the meeting the first or second week in November subject to all members’ availability,” he said.
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