“Don’t exclude Tobago from anti-crime initiatives”
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“Don’t exclude Tobago from anti-crime initiatives”

Tobago



Innovative Democratic Alliance Leader Dr. Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus. - Archive photo
Innovative Democratic Alliance Leader Dr. Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus. – Archive photo

POLITICAL LEADER of the Innovative Democratic Alliance (IDA), Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus, believes Tobago must be represented at the highest levels of national security decision-making.

During a press conference at the IDA headquarters in Scarborough on July 10, she addressed the current crime situation on the island.

Tsoiafatt-Angus described the situation as a “heartbreaking reality” for both families and communities across the island.

So far, 16 murders have been recorded on the island.

She said she has been through an emotional rollercoaster as a mother, imagining the pain other mothers are going through. She said the IDA is at the forefront of advocating for serious challenges to stem the growing crisis.

“Our position has always been clear – Tobago must be represented at the highest levels of national security decision-making. While we are pleased that Tobago has finally been invited to meet with the National Security Council, we say it was ten lives too late.”

She said the IDA saw the latest meeting as a step in the right direction and hastened to add that it “came at unnecessarily high costs.”

She said it was deeply disappointing that the prime minister referred to Tobago as a commune. She described the statement as out of place and unacceptable, noting that if the country’s leader considered Tobago a commune, “then it’s a piece of shit.”

“This attitude is part of what has led to Tobago being left behind. Tobago is not a municipality of Trinidad; it is half of our nation. The IDA calls on leaders and people to go beyond empty words and live out the words of our national anthem – arm in arm, islands in the blue Caribbean Sea. It is this attitude that has led to Tobago and its relationship with Trinidad continuing to be misunderstood and Tobago being left behind.”

It is time, she said, to activate the true essence of these statements, because Tobago is half of the country of Trinidad and Tobago. She said the legislation needed by Tobago cannot be viewed through the prism of being a municipality. It must be viewed in a more holistic sense of what is truly required.

“Sending in additional police without examining the porosity of all our borders, given the water between us, will not be enough. Chief Secretary Farley Augustine’s recent budget statement included several measures to improve public safety in Tobago. While these intentions are commendable, they lack the necessary legislative authority and support to be effective. Proposals to reinstate the Tobago Community Safety Programme, establish community support secretariats and implement smart city technologies are well-intentioned but are a toothless bulldog without the necessary legislative support for the Tobago Police Service.”

She said permanent representation for Tobago on the Security Council would speed up the process of gaining the necessary legislative powers. The July 9 meeting, she said, must be the beginning of talks between the prime minister and the secretary-general with an active Tobago representation, “ensuring that our unique security needs are met.”

Crime, she said, is a symptom of a deeper social disease and that needs to be recognized. She said tackling the problem requires understanding and addressing the underlying causes.

“The Tobago House of Assembly should focus on implementing youth intervention programs, targeting at-risk youth to provide alternative pathways to success and break the cycle of violence. The education system must be reformed.”