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AG Armour’s absurd position – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THE STANCE taken by Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, in relation to the latest developments out of Barbados in the Brent Thomas affair is disappointing. The Barbados government has conceded liability for Mr Thomas’s unlawful abduction in 2022. But for our Attorney General, this is apparently neither here nor there. “I have noted the statements in the media,” Mr Armour said this week, without committing to more. The matter is now subject to a local court appeal, but what is not in dispute are the bare facts. Mr Thomas, a gun dealer who has supplied the protective services and state entities for decades, was in Barbados in 2022. He was due to fly to Miami to meet with his cardiologist. But at around 3am on October 5, while asleep in his hotel, he was jolted awake by banging on the door and shouts of: “Police!” A group of black-clad armed men entered and took him to a police station. He was placed in a cage. He was not told why. Mr Thomas was eventually taken to an airport and handed over to TT police, who escorted him, aboard a plane, to this country. It was the culmination of a Kafkaesque campaign of harassment that led a High Court judge last year to deem the State’s conduct grossly abusive, unconstitutional and “a shameful blot on this country.” Separately, the Court of Appeal also knocked state lawyers who had filed a satellite appeal in Mr Thomas’s lawsuit, saying the appeal was “strange” and a “disproportionate use of the parties’ resources.” Mr Armour’s position on not immediately discontinuing this matter suggests he believes culprits can be both innocent and guilty at the same time. He may feel some nuance within the local proceedings might breed a positive legal outcome and could somehow absolve moral wrong. Yet it is now incontrovertible that local officers participated in serious unlawfulness, whether at home or abroad. That alone is reason for pause. The involvement of a police officer whom the Cabinet recently promoted, enthusiastically, over others to the rank of deputy commissioner of police only adds another layer to this disturbing affair. The AG’s stance is part of a wider pattern in which he has proven unafraid to embrace absurd contradictions. He has been both a junior note-taker and a senior counsel, disqualified and qualified, against the Privy Council, and seemingly all for the colonial savings clause. He has counted the views of overruled judges to turn rulings into non-rulings. This penchant for contradiction extends to his application of the sub-judice rule, in which he is free, in the media and in Parliament, to comment on cases, while no one else is. All this from the titular head of the bar.

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Imbert: Simplified procurement regulations will improve business – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert expressed confidence that the new simplified procurement regulations will improve the ease of doing business while still maintaining the objectives of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act. The release, on April 9, advised that the simplified procurement regulations, the regulations that are applicable to the procurement of goods, services and works valued up to one million dollars or less, were signed into law. Imbert said the regulations are grounded on the amendment in section 58A of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Property Act, passed in Parliament in July 2023. “The act proposes to introduce a streamlined procurement process for both public bodies and participating suppliers, contractors and consultants up to $1 million,” Imbert said in the release. The regulations contains guidance for conducting micro-procurements; considered the procurement of goods, services or works for which the value does not exceed $75,000 inclusive of taxes, duties and other charges and small-scale procurements, or procurement of goods, services or works that do not that exceed $75,000 but do not exceed $1 million. “The simplified procurement regulations does not remove the regulatory/supervisory role and function of the Office of Procurement Regulation but, conversely, augments their role by making special provision for the OPR to issue guidelines,” Imbert said. Some of the issues the OPR can offer guidelines on include due diligence requirements for micro and small-scale procurements, maintaining a registry of agencies dealing in micro-procurements and the registration of agencies on the procurement depository for small-scale procurements. “The regulations reduces a number of the applicable time periods, makes provision for direct contracting, which is a new method of procurement, and introduces the use of verbal quotations (which must be reduced in writing and kept in the prescribed form),” Imbert said. The release added that the regulations also brings clarity to several ongoing issues including the meaning of “emergency,” acquisition of goods and services only available online, delegation of authority of an accounting officer, and utilisation of the one-envelope and two-envelope system.

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Mohammed tops Red Force century list, Jangoo brilliant vs CCC – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

VETERAN batsman Jason Mohammed became Trinidad and Tobago’s top centurion in first-class cricket on April 10, starring alongside fellow century maker Amir Jangoo for the Red Force against the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC), on day one of their West Indies Championship match, at the Sir Frank Worrell Cricket Ground, UWI, St Augustine. Mohammed, 37, who was tied on 12 hundreds with former TT captain Daren Ganga, struck a brilliant 157 off 228 balls (22 fours) to take sole control of the record. Mohammed achieved the feat in 97 matches while Ganga got there in 71 matches. Mohammed reached the milestone with a couple runs off pacer Amari Goodridge and celebrated like a man with something to prove. Raising his arms to the skies, Mohammed then put his fingers to his ears, seemingly mocking those who had criticised his selection on the national team, arguing he was too old. Ironically, Ganga had publicly said he was not happy that the TT Cricket Board gave Mohammed a retainer contract for the ongoing season. It was Mohammed’s second century of the four-day season as TT reached 374 for four at the close of play. Not to be outdone, Jangoo, 26, shifted gears from solid to spectacular to reach his maiden first-class hundred and finished the day unbeaten oin 151. Dropped on 99 off spinner Yannick Ottley, Jangoo picked up a single next ball to reach the landmark off 128 balls (ten fours, two sixes). The pair came to the crease with TT in a spot of bother with three wickets down – all to Goodridge – for just over 100 runs. Mohammed capitalised on some wayward bowling from medium pacer Roshon Primus, clipping him to the leg-side boundary and then slashing a short and wide ball to the ropes to move into the nineties. TT went into the tea break in a comfortable position at 195 for three with Mohammed four shy of triple figures and Jangoo on 34. If the second session belonged to the home team then the final period was even more one-sided as TT scored 179 runs while losing just one wicket. Mohammed brought up the century partnership and his personal glory off 140 balls (17 fours) soon after the break. Jangoo reached his half-century (88 balls, five fours) with a a square drive off pacer Damel Evelyn, and then pressed the accelerator with two boundaries in the same over. He then roughed up leg-spinner Zishan Motara with two more boundaries to take TT past 250. The introduction of off-spinner Yannick Ottley failed to stem the tide as Jangoo lifted him for two sixes to race to 90 and TT 287 for trhee. Another boundary off Ottley took Jangoo to 99 as he looked destined for triple figures. He could consider himself lucky to get there as next ball he edged Ottley to first slip where CCC captain Sharmarh Brooks grassed a regulation chance. Jangoo wasted no time in capitalising in the reprieve as he tucked a ball to the leg side next delivery to reach his hundred – his first in 34 matches. Mohammed didn’t let up, pushing on to 150 (off 219 balls). However, he fell late in the day to Ottley with Brooks finally hanging on at slip. Jangoo got to 150 as well off 162 balls, before seeing out the day’s play alongside nightwatchman Anderson Phillip. Earlier, Goodridge had opener Vikash Mohan out for four and bowled out Jyd Goolie for six. Mohammed looked to repair the innings alongside opener Kjorn Ottley but the latter fell to Goodridge for 47 off 70 balls. The introduction of Jangoo changed the complexion of the match as the pair batted TT to safety and then superiority. Summarised Scores: RED FORCE 374/4 (84 overs) – Jason Mohammed 157, Amir Jangoo 151 not out, Kjorn Ottley 47, Amari Goodridge 3/37.

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Arima man dies after hit-and-run – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A 58-year-old man died as a result of injuries he sustained during a hit-and-run incident on the Eastern Main Road, Maturita, on April 9. He has been identified as Danesh Mahabir, of Demarara Road, Wallerfield, Arima. Arima police responded to a report of an accident near the Golden Rose Supermarket, at about 10.30 pm. When they arrived at the scene they found Mahabir laying near the intersection of the road. Police was told Mahabir was in the roadway when he was hit by a vehicle which failed to stop. They took him to the Arima Health Facility where he was treated. However, some time later police were contacted and told that he died. Investigations are ongoing.

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MP seeks help from PM on bridge project, alleges extortion – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

CHAGUANAS East MP Vandana Mohit has written to the Prime Minister for intervention on a project on Bridal Road, Cunupia, where a bridge is being built. Mohit alleged the project was stopped by gunmen. In her letter to Dr Keith Rowley on April 9, Mohit said on Sunday construction workers were working on the bridge when armed men stopped work on the site, assaulted the project manager and demanded that truck drivers transporting earthfill intended for backfilling, deposit it at a site of their choosing. Mohit said a call was made to superintendent of the Central Division Gavin Simon but he was unaware of the incident. She said the project was critical to the traffic management of the area, but it was met with significant delays. She said further delays would ultimately affect residents already irritated by the inconveniences of the construction. “It is imperative that you utilise your good office to intercede and undertake some strategies in order to minimise or eliminate such dastardly occurrences,” Mohit told the prime minister.

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Experts offer advice to deal with trauma of killings – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

SPOKESMEN for several agencies on Wednesday reflected the nation’s deep trauma at the horrific decapitation of four year old Amarah Lallitte at her Arouca home on April 8 by a male relative of her mother. Police Supt Claire Guy-Alleyne, who heads the Special Victims Unit, deeply lamented the tragedy, talking to Newsday. “It is a really shocking incident. My heart was so heavy. It was filled with grief and disbelief at this unimaginable tragedy that has befallen our community. “I am just asking parents to be ever vigilant. Be aware of who you bring around your children.” She said sometimes relationships do not work out but in general a woman does not necessarily need a man in her life to complete her life, especially if she has children. “Be aware of who you bring around your children,” she repeated. Guy-Alleyne said parents and caregivers have a duty to protect their children from harm by all means necessary. “Pay attention, parents. Intentionally. “I really send out condolences to the family, friends, well-wishers and the entire nation and the world, because when that cry occurred it affected everyone. It sent us into a deep pit. It affected everyone.” Guy-Alleyne reiterated her ongoing call to members of the public, that if you see something, say something. “It doesn’t matter if it is your child, the neighbour’s child or your relative’s child. “We as a nation, when we see or hear or even suspect a child to be in a dangerous or an abusive situation, we are asking persons to come forward and report it so that the authorities could intervene in some way or the other, be it the police, Children’s Authority or Ministry of Social Development.” The Children’s Authority in a statement urged adults to keep children out of their own disputes. “The Children’s Authority is deeply saddened by today’s horrific and brutal murder of a child. “Domestic violence continues to be a significant issue that goes beyond the primary victims as it impacts the entire family.” CEO Sheldon Cyrus said, “Children are not to be used as bargaining chips in relationships or as collateral to sway an argument. “Some persons continue to treat children as objects, things with which they can do as they please instead of treating them as actual human beings full of promise and potential.” He vowed to help bring perpetrators of illegal acts of violence against children to justice. “While it is not easy for victims of domestic violence to reach out when they need help, I urge them to do so. “I also want to encourage their friends and family members to make reports if they are aware of what is going on in the home”. The statement said domestic violence and child abuse were often linked. Cyrus urged parents, caregivers and families to seek support if experiencing challenges. He cited the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services 800-1673, National Family Services Division 623-2608 ext 6701-6711, TT Association of Psychologists 717-8827, Student Support Services Division of the Ministry of Education 724-1010 and Childline 131. “Reports of abuse should be made to the Police at 999 or the Authority at 996.” Noting April as Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month, he said child abuse was preventable and everyone has a duty to speak up against it. The TT Council of Evangelical Churches in a statement on Wednesday strongly condemned the murders of Amarah Lallitte plus Crystal Harricharan, a 34 year old mother of two, shot dead by a gunman while sitting in her car at Vistabella. “We express profound shame and horror at the barbarity inflicted upon this innocent child and the callous murder of the young mother of two, who was shot repeatedly as she sat in her vehicle. These murders and several other acts of criminal activity have deeply shaken our nation.” The council urged “swift and decisive action” to bring the perpetrators to justice, and urged people to renew their reverence for God and to uphold the sanctity of human life. Ayanna Webster-Roy, Minister for Gender and Child Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister, on Tuesday said Amarah’s death had “immersed our entire nation in anguish.” She said, “For the parents, guardians, caretakers, and families in distressing situations, I once again petition you to seek help when faced with overwhelming challenges or emotions. “Our national social support system offers free counselling, mediation, food, shelter, and even medical care assistance.” She noted The Children’s Authority Hotline at 996 or 800-2014, Childline at 131 or 800-4321, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-SAVE (7283). Lucy Gabriel, head of Lifeline (toll-free 800-5588) which helps the despairing and suicidal, spoke to Newsday about Amarah’s decapitation. “It will affect people very badly because it is stunning.” She said despite rampant crime, TT nationals don’t see themselves as doing particularly violent acts. “We do not do certain things. The thought that someone would do that to a child, whatever else has gone before…” She explained how people would likely react to Amarah’s murder. “They will have a first reaction where they will run around, the will talk, they will say ra-ra-ra-ra. Then they will say nothing. They will drop it. They will forget about it, because they don’t really want to deal with the thought in their mind that this could happen in Trinidad.” Reports of a child’s beheading were very traumatising people who would now just “blank it out of your head”, Gabriel said. ‘There will be a flurry of supposed activity and then nothing, because people do not want to deal with it but the nice, material things of life. It will be a nine-day wonder.” Gabriel said, “For the (counselling) service that is needed you are looking at a man who is sitting very quietly, who is filled with rage and is planning how he is going to kill his partner and their children and then himself.” She said many existing services do not reach that person, who likely would have spoken to no one before his crime. Gabriel hoped a closer look would now reveal very subtle signs of the killer’s state of mind before Amarah’s murder. “He didn’t just wake up one morning and get there.” “He is filled with rage. You have to convince him to talk to you. For us in Lifeline, that is the target. You have to make it that he feels safe enough to talk to someone.” Likewise an abuse victim need to be able to access police help quickly, she said. Gabriel suspected Amarah’s mother previously faced domestic violence by the suspect, even as some women regularly deny abusive acts perpetrated on them by an an otherwise silent abuser. She suggested people on the scene of Amarah’s murder, such as police officers and neighbours, likely now need psychological counselling.

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