TOO many of our Caribbean Community member countries are plagued by the scourge of serious crimes that leave the most affected—like Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana—screaming against high incidence of gun-related murders every week.
Endemic crime has become a curse of the Caribbean region where, as international financial institutions and agencies of the United Nations often remind us, citizens are already depressed over alarming data on structural poverty (perhaps with the exception of T&T); high unemployment and low economic growth rate (Guyana is currently an exception in the last category).
In the prevailing environment of killings, armed robberies and rape, it has become the norm to witness passionate public discussions and condemnation of the functioning of the police service, as well as strong criticisms directed at ministers responsible for national security.
Here in T&T, Parliament's current debate on the 2012-2013 budget is providing another familiar replay when the Opposition pushes the minister responsible for National Security (in Guyana he is better known as Minister of Home Affairs), on recurring gun-related murders and other crimes afflicting the society.
Nevertheless, it's quite rare, if ever, for a parliamentary opposition to demand and insist on the dismissal of a national security/home affairs minister because of the murder rate, or to issue a public ultimatum to the country's government to fire such a minister within 48 hours, or face an organised "mass protest".
Well, since in party politics all things are possible, that is precisely what the combined parliamentary opposition in Guyana, which has a one-seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly, chose to do on Monday when they staged a picket protest calling for the removal from office of Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee.
There has been a series of police killings recently, with the victims being relatively young, and amid outcries ranging from incompetence to callousness on the part of armed cops while on duty.
What is of particular significance at this time is that the parliamentary opposition of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance for Change (AFC) have been calling for the dismissal of Mr Rohee since the July 18 deaths of three protesters in the bauxite town of Linden during what came to be known as the "Linden crisis" over a proposed hike in residential electricity tariff.
The killing of the protesters is at the core of the terms of reference for a distinguished independent five-member commission of enquiry, established by President Donald Ramotar with the agreement of the parliamentary opposition to deal with that Linden crisis.
The two opposition parties had earlier succeeded in using their one-seat majority to approve a "no confidence" motion against Rohee, which the government deemed unconstitutional and the Attorney General subsequently moved to the High Court to declare the motion "unlawful".
Among those who have so far given evidence before the commission of enquiry, comprising prominent retired jurists and senior attorneys from Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, are the Police Commissioner and the senior police officer in command at Linden at the time of the shooting deaths during a confrontation between the lawmen and protesters at a bridge linking Wismar and Linden.
While there have been confirmed conversations between Minister Rohee and the officer in command at Linden on the day of the shooting deaths, there was no evidence of him giving any instructions to the ranks.
And the Police Commissioner himself made clear to the commission that he never received any instructions from the minister in relation to the functions of the police on duty at Linden. The commission of enquiry is due to resume hearings in Georgetown on Monday.
Monday's opposition ultimatum to the government for the dismissal of Rohee in 48 hours, or face organised mass protest" as reported in the local media, is expected to expire today. Yesterday was a scheduled cabinet day for President Ramotar's administration.
It seems safe to observe from my distance, that Rohee will not have attended his last cabinet meeting as Minister of Home Affairs and he will be available, if needed, to give evidence before the commission of enquiry on what transpired under his watch that tragic day of last July 18, when three Guyanese citizens were killed during violent clashes between the police and protesters.
Meanwhile, we can all hope for a serious reduction in the ongoing crime epidemic across the region, in particular the rampaging gun-killings (also involving cops while on duty) and, yes, the sickening frequency of rapes, among the victims being young school children.