‘No justice, no security’
Escalating internal insecurity is undermining, and definitely hurting, all facets of development in Trinidad and Tobago. Until the Government, Opposition and country at large accept that insecurity is fundamentally the result of social, political and economic inequities, it will be almost impossible to make significant inroads in tackling this seemingly intractable problem.
It is a truism that “Without justice, there can be no security and without security, there can be no development”. Some hold that there is too much injustice in the country for peace to reign.
Threats to national security include crime, drugs, organised violence and an incipient civil disorder. Clearly, we did not get to this state overnight, but are experiencing the cumulative effect of failure and neglect over decades. What is very disturbing is the upsurge in youth violence and criminality stemming from declining economic opportunity, income inequality, unemployment and a sense of hopelessness.
Despite increasing budgetary allocations to national security, crime and violence proliferate. Apparently, throwing money at the problem is not yielding the desired results. There can be no law enforcement solution to what are essentially economic, political and social problems. And there are no easy solutions either, although social and economic justice for all citizens seems a fairly obvious starting point.
It is true that the Government is ultimately responsible for citizen security and this must be a priority issue. However, addressing insecurity is a national enterprise requiring cooperation across the political divide and involvement of civil society and committed individuals with their considerable talent and wide-ranging expertise. Ordinary citizens also have responsibility in the matter.
The Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition should be commended for putting their heads together on this issue. It would be prudent, sooner than later, for other key stakeholder representatives and competent individuals to be involved in the search for viable solutions. Hopefully, the agreed strategy would include good governance (attacking corruption), effective policing, high-quality intelligence gathering, equitable justice and sound economic development (tackling poverty and unemployment) woven into a well-thought out, comprehensive and targeted programme of investment in education, healthcare, skills development and infrastructure building in various communities.
Solutions must be evidence-based; no silver bullet can solve the challenge of insecurity.
We are all vulnerable to the wanton violence stalking the land.
Ineffectiveness in addressing the problem has eroded the trust between politicians and citizens giving rise to increasing cynicism and despair.
Citizens yearn for an end to the senseless loss of lives; and for a country where peace and security enjoy uninterrupted reign.
Those with the power and authority will need to demonstrate astute leadership and committed action to regain the support and justify the patience of citizens.
Winston R Rudder