Trinidad and Tobago: The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago, LATT, condemns the rise of violence in the nation, particularly the crime against women.
The unfortunate deaths of Ashanti Riley and Andrea Bharat ignited global protests on crimes against women and the Criminal Justice System’s pitiful status.
For many years, LATT has been working hard to rectify violence against women, but no modification and amendment has been done in the Criminal Justice system.
LATT also notes numerous calls for the annulment of the right to bail for certain crimes, especially in these times, and agree that bail should be refused to anyone charged with any criminal misdemeanor who is determined to be a danger to society and who are likely to re-offend while out on warrant.
The existing Bail Act already provisions for the denial of bail in such situations. The call for the automatic rejection of bail to someone charged with a specified offense, whether it be rape or kidnapping, comes at the expense of discarding long-cherished constitutional rights, such as the right to be supposed innocent until proven guilty, and effectively puts the decision whether someone should be denied of his liberty for long periods solely in the hands of the police.
This would be an asymmetrical response and would constitute a jail sentence without a trial in an already shattered criminal justice system.
LATT recognizes that no one answers to the endemic problem of gender-based violence, rooted as it is in firmly entrenched societal values and power structures that see ‘men practicing violence as a tool of power and control over women and their bodies.’
Gender difference and sexist attitudes are at the heart of this pervasive victimization of women and girls.
As such, some of the answers lie in changes in how men and women are socialized and that parenting and the school system have integral roles to play, as do improvement in policing and the justice system, in safer public transportation, and in moving away from corporal mortification.
LATT understands that until the root causes of criminality among the dispossessed and disempowered societies are addressed, the recurring cycle of ever-increasing horrendous and monstrous murders will not be quickly quelled.
Only when all key stakeholders meaningfully work together can T&T see a marked decrease in the occurrence of violent crimes and a criminal justice system that works efficiently.
LATT demands better funding of Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and appropriate use of resources available to the Ministry of National Security to help detect criminal activities and upgrade the Forensic Sciences Centre to allow timely DNA processing ballistic data.