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No guns, please

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Speaking on Sunday, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi rejected calls by the Prisons Officers Association for their members to be able to carry guns when off-duty. Mr Al-Rawi is right.

There’s no doubt prisons officers and their families, like any worker, must feel safe when not on duty. However, the solution is not to arm them but to understand why they are under threat in the first place.

Around the world, the work of a prison officer is a challenging one as, in the end, they have a balancing act to perform whilst trying to keep prisoners safe, maintain order and avoid break outs. It’s definitely not an easy job.

However, arming them will not solve the problem. As the AG stated over the weekend, the first thing that needs doing, ideally with the POA’s active involvement, is to root out corruption inside the prison system. There’s no reason to doubt that most of our prisons officers are honest and hardworking public servants; however, those who aren’t effectively poison the system and put not only their own colleagues but society in general in harm’s way.

There’s no question there’s more the government will need to do to improve the way our prisons are run and to make sure our prisons officers work with the right level of protection. In return, the POA could perhaps break the mould of our unions by openly and actively working to kick out the bad apples amongst their members. Then their claims are likely to be heard by more sympathetic ears.

Amen to that

Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph Harris’ comments are spot on: corrupt politicians come from corrupt people.

After all, corrupt people are not aliens who come from another planet to get elected or occupy major posts in government or the private sector. By definition, they are a product of our own society.

This is not to argue that somehow the people of Trinidad and Tobago are naturally corrupt. Not at all. But it would be reasonable to argue that, as a society, we seem to tolerate or accept that corruption is part of the country’s ecosystem. To put it bluntly, it is not and should never be.

All of us, as reminded by the Archbishop, must stop just talking about corruption and start doing something about it, one act at a time.

Bridging our past

With so many costly issues facing our country, perhaps the future of an old railway bridge might be considered irrelevant. That’s wrong.

This newspaper supports the San Fernando Heritage Trust’s calls for at least the remnants of the recently collapsed bridge in Marabella to be preserved, if a full restoration is not possible.

Many of this country’s historical buildings and structures have already been lost to wanton destruction, sometimes to misguided drive for the new or simply carelessness.

Buildings and structures are a bit like photographs in a family album—if, one by one, they are destroyed, little or nothing is left to remind us of the past generations that helped shape what we are now.


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