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crime

Police probe the murders of two sisters

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Mar 2, CMC – Police said one person is assisting their investigations as they probe the murders of two sisters in the quiet Key’s Village community on Thursday.

crimePolice said that Jemilia and Jemisha Finch were killed in a gully area near the basketball court.

“Both sisters were allegedly hacked to death by a young man from the Keys area. Dead are two sisters, one of them apparently the girlfriend of the perpetrator,” the police said in a statement.

Media reports said that the women were between the ages 19 and 20, and one was a member of the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force and recently became a mother.

The police have given no motive for the killings.

Posted in Crime, Local, News, Police, Regional, Youth0 Comments

children in class room

A Third of Secondary School Children in Eastern Caribbean At Risk of Dropping Out or Failing

Caribbean360 January 23, 2018

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, January 23, 2018 – A ground-breaking study has found that up to 33 per cent of the children in secondary schools across the Eastern Caribbean are at risk of either dropping out or failing.

The report from the study, co-authored by lecturer in Social Studies Education in the School of Education at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr Verna Knight, and Director of the School of Education, Dr Babalola Ogunkola, also concluded that 17 per cent or just over 1,700 children at the primary level faced similar risks.

The 2017 study, ‘Global Initiative on Out of School Children: Eastern Caribbean’, was supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Argentinian NGO Asociacion Civil Educación para Todos.

It analysed information on enrolment by age, grade, repeaters, dropouts and graduates from early childhood (4 years) and primary and secondary levels using data collected from administrative data units in ministries of education in Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Turks and Caicos Islands for the periods 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.

The study centred on a framework designed by UNICEF and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics that highlighted two general categories for exclusion – present or total exclusion (children who are out of school), and potential or partial exclusion (children who are enrolled in school but not engaged at the school level).

This was then divided into five dimensions of exclusion – children of early childhood age who were not in the school system, children who were of primary school age but were not in school, children of secondary school age but were not enrolled in primary or secondary school; children of primary school age and are enrolled but were at risk of dropping out or failing, and those of secondary school age who were enrolled but were also at risk of dropping out or failing.

The researchers found that 0.5 per cent of children of pre-school age (4+ years) were out of school completely, while this stood at 1.4 per cent (840) for primary school children and 3.3 per cent (over 1,000) for those of secondary school age.

“When we dug a little deeper into the notion of potential exclusion we saw that the exclusion begins as early as kindergarten. For example, when you look at the region we saw 8 per cent of the students were at least one year behind at kindergarten level. We saw this increase to 11 per cent at grade one level, 13 per cent at grade two level and 17 per cent at grade three level. By the time we got to form five, it was 38 per cent. This shows us that the problem is identifiable at the kindergarten level but when it’s not addressed it’s very difficult for those children to improve,” Dr Knight said.

The resultant effect was students starting to drop out of school as early as first form due to their inability to cope.

The study also concluded that boys were twice as impacted as girls, with repetition and dropout rates for boys standing at 8 per cent and 6 per cent respectively.

While data for the five-year period for the same cohort of males and females was absent, the scholars examined the number of students enrolled in first form compared to the number of them in fifth form, noting an overall 24 per cent decline.

“There was a 15 per cent loss for girls between first and fifth form compared to 32 per cent for the boys. This shows that the boys are most impacted by this exclusion, the first to drop out, most represented in the repetition classes, the suspension list, with discipline issues,” Dr Knight indicated.

Following a review of recently-conducted empirical studies, they arrived at 12 barriers to potential exclusion, which were later narrowed down to five, following consultation workshops with key interest groups in each country.

The main problems were: inadequate support for struggling learners, inadequate special needs provisions, negative teacher attitude towards academically weak students, weak academic performance and participation of boys, and low parental engagement and involvement in children’s education.

While the latter did not emerge as a factor at the early childhood level, poverty did.

“It wasn’t a surprise to find that teachers were reluctant to teach ‘weak’ students at the secondary level, but when we saw it emerging at the primary level and the early childhood level too it became a greater concern. If we are saying that potential exclusion begins at kindergarten level where we begin to see the gaps and this continues at primary school and into fifth form levels where it seems to widen then there’s need to bring those teachers together to ensure that their training and professional development are really addressed,” Dr Knight stated.

“Half of the teachers were untrained to begin with. Less than 50 per cent of the secondary school teachers across the region are certified as trained so they were untrained and there were these students coming in who couldn’t read, couldn’t write and they still had to teach them Principles of Business, Social Studies, History, the same curriculum. The performance level of the students began to fall in the subject areas and the teachers blamed the children and said ‘those students don’t belong here, they need to be kept in the same primary school or sent to a different type of secondary school or something’.

“It got so bad that some teachers don’t want to teach low performing students and the children were separated based on ability. What we found was that once the students went into a particularly stream [classes based on abilities] they continued in that stream throughout the entire schooling period, which have implications for their motivation, self-confidence and self-esteem,” she added.

An exhaustive list of recommendations have been put forward to remedy the deficiencies, including school outreach to parents, the development of stronger partnerships with families, the facilitation of parent orientation sessions so they could better understand their roles, parenting classes and more home visits by trained counsellors and teachers.

Additionally, the researchers suggest innovative changes to classroom instruction methods and teaching aids at primary and secondary school levels for children with problems learning.

For teachers with negative attitude towards academically weak students, they believe professional support should be provided targeting problem areas, the provision of mentorship for younger teachers, the introduction of bridging programmes to support children in the transition from primary to secondary school level and targeted support for children who repeat a class level.

Posted in Education, Featured, Features, International, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

Floyd Green

Government provides counseling,relief following fire at children’s home

 

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jan. 16, CMC – The Government is providing counselling and relief supplies for children and staff of the Walker’s Place of Safety following a massive fire here late Monday that claimed the lives of two children.

Floyd Green
Floyd Green

“The Walker’s Place of Safety was completely destroyed by fire late last night. The loss is quite devastating as two children died in the fire. Steps are being taken to contact the parents and to start counselling for them,” said Floyd Green, the junior minister in the Education Ministry.

He told the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) that counselling is being provided for the displaced children and staff because, “as you can imagine, they are completely devastated”.

He noted that “the priority now is to guide them through this difficult time and ensure that we get the essential items that they need. We have already started to get critical supplies, such as medication for those children who are ill. We are moving now to find a suitable location, so that we can move the children and ensure that they are more comfortable”.

Green said investigations have been launched to determine the cause of the blaze, which destroyed the privately owned facility located on Lyndhurst Road in the Corporate Area.

The place of safety serves as a transitional residence for children, generally up to 12 years old, who have been abandoned or removed from their homes because of unstable conditions.

“The fire service has also commenced their investigation. We are awaiting their report. The Child Protection and Family Services Agency will also do their own investigation to see what transpired,” Green said.

Posted in Environment, Health, Kids, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

sugarra

Beverage manufacturers urged to cut sugar content

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jan 13, CMC – Jamaica’s Finance Minister Audley Shaw has  issued an appeal to beverage manufacturers to lower the sugar content in their products or force the Government to take action.

sugarraShaw, who was addressing a scientific symposium on fiscal measures to prevent obesity/non-communicable diseases (NCD), on Thursday, said they can either respond voluntarily “or we as a Government can respond to the needs of the country through appropriate policy prescriptions.”

“There has to be a willingness on the part of the producers of beverages to lead the way, set the examples. Don’t wait for the tax act to force you to do it. They need to start reducing the sugar contents even before fiscal measures are contemplated,” he added.

He said that the Government is concerned about the sugar content of products being marketed to children.

He noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that countries implement guidelines as it relates to the production of food and beverages in order to reduce the amount of sugar, and imposing taxes to encourage manufacturers to take the appropriate actions.

The Minister pointed out that policy measures already being implemented by countries across the region are reducing the amount of sweet beverages provided to schoolchildren and, ultimately, having a positive impact on the social and economic fabric of such societies.

Shaw said that although several programmes have been initiated to reduce NCDs, a more aggressive stance is needed to get more partners to join the fight in reducing the lifestyle-related diseases.

He argued that with Jamaica spending US$170 million annually on chronic diseases, the country must act so that more funds can be available for infrastructure improvement to health facilities and the upgrading of healthcare services.

Urging action from beverage manufacturers, the Finance Minister noted that they are armed with research about the “impact of your product on your consumers. We want you to be more responsible in what you include in these products.”

He also urged consumers to “put themselves in informed positions to make healthy choices, because it is your health that is impacted.”

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IMG_1003

Montserrat Community College Graduation 2017

The Montserrat Community College held its 2016/17 Graduation Ceremony at 4:30 pm on December 20, 2017, in the Brades Arts and Entertainment Centre.

Valedictorian Meliek Richards gave the address on behalf of the graduands, and Acting Attorney-General Mrs Sheree Rodney (a graduate of the College) gave the graduation address.

Acting co-principals Miss Anne Marie Dewar and Mrs Geraldine Cabey led the procession followed by Rev. Dr Ruth Allen who opened the proceedings with a prayer. Mrs Cabey introduced the Chairperson Miss Thandie Williams, following with Miss Dewar delivering the  Principal’s Remarks.   

A break followed with student, Miss Tamarra Agard singing a solo, accompanied by another student Mr Yannick Lynn, on the guitar. 

In the graduation address, guest speaker Ag. Attorney General Mrs. Sheree Rodney who was introduced by Sandrae Thomas, reflected on the College motto: ‘Aspire, Apply, Achieve,’ and pointed to the significance of clear, concise, achievable but challenging goals. This was reflected in the Valedictorian’s speech in which Mr Richards spoke to the theme: imagine, desire, act on, and it will come to pass, pausing to thank God for the help given.

Miss Dewar in her remarks informed as she recounted some of the highlights, giving note, “For the past two years’ students at the college have undertaken short weekly personal development sessions entitled ‘My Time’ on a range of topics from Financial Planning and Savings to managing stress, sexuality and ethics.”

She said, the program was the brainchild of former Principle Dr. Clarice Barnes, who according to scant information left the college in circumstances yet to be explained or examined as having being forced out, all yet to be confirmed.

Miss Dewar said the program, “has enabled students to engage in thinking on areas and matters critical to their own well-being now and for the future…”

During the year there were forty-one full-time students, with twenty-eight doing part-time studies in various technical fields: building construction, cosmetology and clothing and textiles. There was a display and a video on work done. Seventeen of the graduands studied for the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE), and during the year two new subjects were added. These were Literatures in English and Tourism Studies. Students in the flagship CAPE programme achieved an overall pass-rate of 92%. The Valedictorian passed eight subjects, winning a regional award for Accounting.

Intended as a surprise, at the end of awards to students, the students gave special awards of appreciation to teachers in addition to the traditional awards to presenters and special guests. The vote of thanks was given by Miss Lindsey.

The traditional shifting of the tassels was then held and the ceremony was complete.

Click on link to see other pictures of Graduation. 

END

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Haile Thomas

Jamaican American named CNN ‘Young Wonder of the Year’

ATLANTA, Dec. 28, CMC – The Atlanta, Georgia-based Cable News Network (CNN) has named a Jamaican-American among its five “Young Wonders of the Year.”

Haile Thomas, 17, who lives in New Windsor, a town in Orange County, Upstate New York, was named by the network on its “Young Wonders: A CNN Heroes Special.”

All five “CNN Young Wonders” were also be honored during “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.”

Haile ThomasCNN has described Thomas as “a teen health activist,” stating that her  “HAPPY organisation”  is leading the next generation toward a healthier future by bringing cooking lessons and nutrition education to children in underserved areas.”

The popular network said the five “extraordinary young people” are “making a difference in their communities.

“Their inspiring stories serve as reminders that you are never too young to change the world,” CNN said.

It said Thomas is an international speaker, health activist, vegan food and lifestyle influencer, podcaster, the youngest Certified Integrative Health Coach in the United States, and the founder/chief executive officer of the nonprofit HAPPY (Healthy Active Positive Purposeful Youth).

Thomas said on her website that she founded HAPPY when she was 12 years old to “address the need for free/affordable plant-based nutrition and culinary education in underserved/at-risk communities, as well as in schools and through annual summer camps.”

She said she has personally engaged over 15,000 kids since beginning her activism in 2010, stating that she was inspired to pursue this passion after her family successfully reversed her father’s type-2 diabetes “without the use of medication, only healthy eating and lifestyle choices, and upon learning that kids were also increasingly being diagnosed with conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.”

Thomas said all of her programmes, projects and initiatives are geared towards engaging, educating, motivating and empowering young people to make healthy lifestyle choices to live their best life.

She also hosts the podcast “Girl Empowered,” interviewing, inspiring and empowering women; “therefore fulfilling its mission to broadcast female voices of empowerment.”

Thomas is one of the first eight young chefs featured on season one of “Rachael vs. Guy Kids-Cook-Off,” and also on “Cupcake Wars Kids,” both airing on the Food Network.

She also worked for two years as the Jr. Chef Advisor for Hyatt Hotel’s “For Kids – By Kids” Menu, with her kids’ menu recipes serving at all Hyatt Resorts in North America and the Caribbean.

Thomas said she has been featured on the “Today Show,” “Dr. Oz,” “Home and Family Show,” and “The Rachael Ray Show,” and highlighted in several major publications, including O magazine, Teen Vogue and YES magazine.

She is the first teen to be featured on the cover of Experience Life Magazine in the October 2016 issue.

Additionally, Thomas said she creates creative and artistic lifestyle and vegan recipe videos through her channel “ Plant-Powered Haile” on YouTube.

Thomas started to work at the Canyon Ranch Institute in 2015 as a nutrition science assistant; and, in 2016, she partnered with the nonprofit Harlem Grown organization to educate people about urban farming, sustainability and nutrition.

Thomas and her family moved from Arizona to New York in September 2016, “so she could expand her business.”

In 2017, Thomas was the youngest graduate of the Integrative Nutrition Health Coach program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

“Nutrition is super important for our growth and development for our brains and our bodies,” Thomas says.

“Haile is an example for all of you, what your little powerful voices can do to change the world,” said former US First Lady Michelle Obama on Thomas’s website.

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Be careful how you complain the justice system!

Be careful how you complain the justice system!

It can never enough, certainly not currently, to have the conversation relating to sexual, child and women abuse. But because of how Miss Shirley Osborne an organiser of women’s affairs, who also functions as a dominant person as Speaker of the Montserrat Legislature has recently and prior address issues surrounding issues as above, we think it important to touch on her posture on the issues.

December 23, 2017

Miss Osborne has come out and is critical of the ‘justice system’, unfortunately using recent matters that appeared before the High Court during the last criminal assizes. Her take on the matter: “…the terrifying thing for me is that the court, the judicial system which is what you look to when all else fails, or we should look to when all else fails, by some accounts and in some people’s informed opinion has failed this time… We’re going to talk about this last high court session,” speaking in the end as to planned meetings and perhaps consultations going forward.

She stressed the point further. “There’s too many questions too much disappointment too much anger too much failure there.”

In fairness to her she had preceded those words with an admission, which we believe is exactly what needs to be fixed, these issues having gone through many interventions. “Clearly, we’re not doing nearly enough to protect women not just adult women but young women and our more vulnerable women also and our more vulnerable girls,” she said.

Since 2010 and earlier these matters surrounding women, girls and children; sexual abuses, were brought out into the public. HMG joining almost the rest of the world poured monies into the region to address the issues. Montserrat has not been left out, and it is one of the areas, under the heading of ‘Child Safeguarding’

She refers to a domestic violence bill before the house which like several other matters surrounding the issues is one of the mistakes being made on the issues.

How familiar is the public with what that domestic violence bill seeks to do for the ‘people’ of Montserrat? The same question can be asked about various pieces of legislation surrounding ‘Child Safeguarding’. Going to the people who will be affected by the outcomes of the legislation to tell them what it is, cannot be called consultation.

That issue, by the way, is a serious issue in Montserrat. Take the discourse at and coming out of the recent ‘consultation’ on the Economic Growth Plan.

The issues that Miss Osborne took up with the court and the ‘justice system’ were clearly not studied. When they do, it is hoped that a double back will be taken if and when they discover that the approach at attempting to show that somehow the system is rigged against the interests of women, is simply because the facts are not truly or even honestly being considered, preventing the kind of preparations needed to create a solid foundation.

Sometimes and often the personal agendas all round are not sincere, taking the matter at hand with the proper focus obviously skewed.

There are issues promoting one thing and then backing away or looking at the issue only because of who is involved and not really the situation at hand, which is supposed to be for the benefit of good. That is a serious issue facing this country, one that must be corrected if good is going to fall over this land. It is the goal that is important, always.

“You can’t remedy what’s already been done, but we could look really intentionally purposely look for ways to ensure as far as that’s possible that we don’t have this occurring again,” Hon. Shirley said.

That she will find has been overlooked time and time again and will continue if serious examination is made into the motives of those seeking to promote what we believe is not ‘women domination’ but rather correcting and if necessary punishing, what has been for far too long a kind of scourge; that fact being an issue in itself. Full support is forthcoming but that can only bring success if ‘proper’ discussions and consultations take place.

With that a blessed Christmas is our wish to everyone, whichever side of love you may be. And if we do not see you again before the new year, may 2018 bring nothing less than joy and more blessings.

Posted in Court, Crime, Features, Legal, Local, Police, Regional, Youth0 Comments

Court

Guyanese teen used last breath to tell cops who shot her

NEW YORK, CMC – Police here have testified that a Guyanese-born teenager in Brooklyn used her last few breaths to tell cops the name of the man who shot her after she spurned his advances, as she struggled through an agonizing 20-minute wait for an ambulance.

Sixteen-year-old Shemel Mercurius was fatally shot inside a Brooklyn apartment last year by a 25-year-old man who wanted to date her.

CourtEarlier this week, at the trial of Taariq Stephens — who is charged with murdering Shemel — the Brooklyn Supreme Court heard from the hero patrol cop who tried to keep her alive.

The police reported that Shemel, a junior at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, was babysitting her 3-year-old cousin on May 31, 2016, when Stephens allegedly showed up at the Brooklyn Ave. apartment and shot her three times with a submachine gun.

Responding New York Police Department (NYPD) officers kicked down the apartment door to find a horrifying scene.

“There was a 3-year-old male child covered in blood crying next to the victim,” said Sgt. Ryan Habermehl, who testified that he immediately called the Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

“It took about 20 minutes for EMS to arrive,” Habermehl testified.

Officer Kyle Thomas Daly found Shemel, bleeding heavily, seated on a toy car and leaning against the wall, said the New York Daily News .

“I put on gloves, took her off the car and laid her down and began rendering aid,” said Daly, who has since left the NYPD to join the Suffolk County police department in Shirley, Long Island, a New York City suburb. “She regained consciousness, gave me her name and date of birth.  “It took a very long time for the ambulance to come, about 20 minutes.”

While Shemel was in and out of consciousness, the dying teen told another detective that Stephens wanted to be “boyfriend and girlfriend,” but she wasn’t interested, Daly said.

Shemel and Stephens reportedly met at a daycare center a week before the murder and exchanged phone numbers.

An ambulance arrived at 6:55 p.m. and Mercurius died at Kings County Hospital at 7:57 p.m., according to testimony.

Shemel, who lived with her aunt after moving to the US four years ago from Guyana, had buzzed a friend into the East Flatbush building where she was babysitting moments before she was shot.

It said Lona Junien took the stand to describe what she saw happening between Stephens and Shemel when she showed up to visit her friend.

“The person pushed her. The person said ‘Don’t ever lie to me.’ She was screaming, he took out the gun and shot her,” said Junien, 18.

Junien admitted on cross-examination that a detective told her Stephens was the shooter before she identified him.

If convicted, Stephens faces 25 years to life in prison for second-degree murder and weapons charges.

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Children rightss

Barbados joins other Caribbean islands in signing ILO initiative regarding child labour

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Dec 11, CMC – The International Labour Organization (ILO) says Barbados has become the ninth Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to join the Regional Initiative, Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour.

It said that the island’s Labour Minister Esther Byer-Suckoo handed over the signed agreement to José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, ILO Regional Director of the Americas and Caribbean in the margins of the Organization of American States (OAS) XX Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labour held here earlier this month.

Children rightssIt said as a result of Barbados signing the agreement, it now brings the total  number of participating countries in the region to 28, all aligned in pursuit of a common objective: to accelerate the rate of reduction of child labour in the region and by 2025, to eliminate all forms of child labour.

“The adhesion of Barbados reflects the commitment and importance attributed by the Caribbean countries to the tripartite collaboration and partnership among governments, and employers and workers organisations, as the region works towards achieving Target 8.7 of the 2030 Agenda,” the ILO added.

According to the ILO, Barbados has ratified the commitments set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and has also ratified ILO Conventions 138 on the minimum age for admission to employment and 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour.

It noted that in Barbados, the minimum age established for employment is 16 years, however, according to estimates done in 2014, the incidence of child labour in the country was 3.5 per cent between 5-14 years of age.

“As part of the country’s efforts to combat the issue, Barbados has established the National Committee for Monitoring the Rights of the Child, which seeks to generate recommendations on policies that favour the rights of children and sensitizes communities on the matter. Among the challenges faced by Barbados is the creation of lists of light work and dangerous work for minors,” the ILO added.

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Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

Government critical of Opposition over defeat of Anti-Gang legislation

PM Rowley: “And we’re seeing an exponential rise in gang activity,”

 

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Dec 7, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government Thursday blasted Opposition legislators after they failed to provide the necessary support for the Anti-Gang Legislation that the authorities said was needed to deal with the rising gang activities in the country.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley told a news conference that all objections to the bill had been addressed and amended before it was put to the vote and accused the Opposition of supporting criminality by objecting to the legislation that had required a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

At the end of it all…there was not a single impediment standing in their way…every single thing they raised including the (comments by the) Chief Whip (David Lee) (were addressed).

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

“On December 7, 2017, in the wee hours of the morning, (Opposition) refused to use their vote to defend the lives of the people,” a visibly upset Rowley told reporters.”

“The business of Trinidad and Tobago was gutted and undermined. We have a scourge of gang activity in many if not most of our communities, there are thousands of families where the quality of life is being severely impacted by illegal activity.

“For some inexplicable reason, our colleagues in the Parliament found it difficult or impossible to convert the scourge of gang activity into an illegal activity,” he added.

The Anti-Gang Bill 2017 seeks to make provision for the maintenance of public safety and order through discouraging membership of criminal gangs and the suppression of criminal gang activity and for other related matters.

It seeks to make it an offence to be a member of a gang, to be in possession of a bullet-proof vest, to participate in, or contribute to, the activities of a gang, to support or invite support for a gang, or to harbour or conceal gang members or recruit persons to a gang.

The legislation also contains a ‘retaliatory clause’ which protects persons who have left gangs from retaliatory actions by gang members.

Opposition legislators voted against the bill that had first been introduced here during the term in office of the People’s Partnership government headed by Kamla Persad Bissessar.

Former Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar abstained when the vote was taken during the early hours of Thursday morning and has promised to outline his position at a news conference  on the weekend.

Rowley told reporters that he had spoken to the Lee seeking to determine the objections of the Opposition saying that the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) was seeking to benefit from the crime situation in order to attain power.

“Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her UNC gang and cabal voted to maintain that status quo….so that crime and criminality can remain a chronic state of affairs, so that those politicians can point to the crime and call Trinidad and Tobago a failed state and hope that you will be disgusted with those in office and put them in office

“That is the most cynical, wicked and pernicious act,” Rowley said, adding that citizens should hold their representatives to account.

“You put them in office and you have to get them to work for you, because right now they are working for themselves. I could not believe…I served with people who would do something like that.”

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, who had earlier told legislators during the debate that between 2014 and this year, gangs in Trinidad and Tobago had increased 129 per cent and gang members have increased 60 per cent,

“And we’re seeing an exponential rise in gang activity,” he said, noting that in 2014 the acting Police Commissioner had said there were 92 gangs with 1,500 members.

“In 2016 it grew to 172 gangs and 2,358 members – today it’s 211 gangs and 2,458 members,” he said, adding that gang-related murders totalled 998 between 2010 and this year and the number of gang-related guns seized stands at 4,674.

According to Al-Rawi an estimated 1,195 firearms were seized since 2016 alone, reiterating that the number of gangs and their members in the nine police divisions ranging from 49 (Western) to nine (Eastern). There are also 221 members in the Witness Protection Programme, he noted.

Al- Rawi said that when the bill was first introduced here by the previous government, 463 were arrested under the law during the 2011 state of emergency (SoE).

Speaking at the news conference Al-Rawi said he was ‘shell-shocked’ by the Opposition’s behaviour, saying “we went over it bit by bit…when we came to take the final vote… all 21 PNM (People’s National Movement) members present voted yes. When we came to the vote from the Opposition it started with no…a big fat no.

“Suffice it to say it was shell-shocking to see what happened yesterday after 14 hours of work,” he said, telling reporters that he had observed that some Opposition legislators were in disagreement with the decision adopted by the Opposition Leader.

“I saw the look on the faces of those opposite me last night. I saw shock. I saw fear, I saw disgust. I saw a member of the UNC bench have some very heated words with his leader and storm out of the Parliament,” Al-Rawi added.

Prime Minister Rowley said his government would continue to seek to criminalise gang activity and will seek to use other laws in the interim in order to crack down on gang activity.

“I realised that Opposition was hell-bent on not making gang activity in Trinidad and Tobago an illegal act….we have one hell of a problem because Opposition has decided to come down in support of criminality in Trinidad and Tobago.”

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