14 Nov 2015

A spiral of hate and violence

Bloodbath in Paris screams the headline this morning. “150 killed as jihadist gunmen blow themselves up at concert and Kalashnikov-wielding terrorist opens fire in restaurant. Suicide bombers detonate near Stade de France.”

Terrorists launched a total of six coordinated attacks at high profile sites across Paris:

  • Two suicide bomb attacks at a bar near the Stade de France led to President Hollande being evacuated from the stadium. He has since declared a national state of emergency.
  • Two terrorists with AK47s burst into the Bataclan concert hall, where rock band Eagles of Death Metal were performing. They sprayed bullets and threw grenades into thousands of people before they started slaughtering people one by one.
  • A terrorist armed with an AK47 killed at least 11 people at Cambodian restaurant Le Petit Cambodge on Rue Bichat at around 9pm.
  • Gunfire and bomb blasts have also been reported at the Louvre art gallery, the Pompidou Centre and Les Halles shopping centre.

France has a long history of intolerance toward the extremes of Islam. It has (rightly) banned face coverings, and has cracked down on those who would push the boundaries of communal harmony.

By having these terrorists attacking the city of Paris, far from making a point, I suspect that France will now become even more intolerant, and all Muslims will be viewed and treated as being a (potential) terrorist. The spiral of mistrust has begun. Do I find that unfair? Not at all!

You see, the terrorists who commit these acts are usually citizens of the targeted state. They have been bred into a society that is far more tolerant than the ones they support. And it is that very tolerance and freedoms which give them the opportunity to be groomed.

I often find it amusing when Muslims protests in England. You see, it is the very freedoms and liberties of their rights that allow them to protest against the freedom and rights they enjoy. The irony escapes them, of course. Were they to protest in a Sharia state, they'd be dragged out to a public square and dealt with in the same manner they support.

My condolences to the families who have lost loved ones. I hope you come to terms with this tragedy and somehow find some peace.

13 Nov 2015

Human stupidity and human cruelty

From my observations, and I must say, only from my observations ( I have done no research except to pay attention to the world around me), I have to say that human beings have to be the most stupid animal on the planet. This despite the ability to reason to a level higher than any other animal on the planet.

Take this example:

handThe man obviously was a fool, to put it mildly. Handling fireworks requires health and safety precautions (something unheard of in Trinidad and Tobago) and a modicum of good sense (another thing I despair of existing on that Rock). But the real kicker in the gonads in that the sale of fireworks is illegal… right?

Human stupidity… if we didn’t breed at such a prolific rate, we’d have been extinct many eons ago.

Here’s another observation… perhaps because we humans can reason, we have become quite inventive at being cruel. From devising instruments of torture to being cruel for no particular reason except that we can, humans have quite the history of degrading, punishing and abusing our own kind. Funnily enough, there are more laws to prevent us being cruel to animals than to our own kind… or so it appears to me.

Take this example:

According to the maid in the video, she was fed stale food mere days after taking employment in Saudi Arabia. Her employers had already taken away her passport. She attempted to leave by tying two saris together, tying them to the bed and  climbing out the the window. While she was distracted in throwing the saris through the window to climb out, unknowing to her, her employers had come into the room. She felt a sharp pain, then woke up in the hospital to find out her arm had been chopped off. The police claim she was mentally unstable and chopped her own arm off… is that even physically possible for someone to chop off an arm so cleanly at the shoulder?

This is by no means an isolated incident. Mistreatment of servants in Saudi Arabia has been so rife than Indonesia actually banned their citizens from going to Saudi Arabia to work. Looks like India may have to do the same.

The human aggression is also fuelled by the sense of power that comes from the oil dollars that Saudi Arabia has. I’m sure that mistreatment eked out to foreigners in Saudi come because of the petro-dollars that gives the Saudi government the power to dictate terms of any negotiations. So… money = power = cruelty.

12 Nov 2015

Tiger, tiger burning bright

“Those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside…”

JFK’s Inaugural Speech

A word for those seeking higher office on the Rock… they know who they are.

9 Nov 2015

The myopia of the police dunceys

I observed with great alarm the police inaction in the case of a woman beaten in a bar, kicked until she was sent skating across the floor like a busted football.

The police are saying that they cannot charge the perpetrator under the Domestic Violence Act if the victim is not making a complaint. That may be true under the Domestic Violence Act, and indeed I looked at the Offences Against the Person Act which is also useless… The OAPA is primarily designed to protect persons holding government offices, such as judges et al.

However, I looked at the Summary Offences Act, and it clearly states that “a complaint can be laid by or on behalf of the person aggrieved”… In other words, a complaint can be made by the police officer or other any other person, if the victim is not willing.

I admit, the penalties under the Summary Offences Act (which dates back from 1921, and is entirely reflected in the out-of-date language, offences and penalties within the Act) are so minor as to not make it even a disturbance in the life of the offender. Fines of TT$100 or 30 days imprisonment do not a lesson make.

I have been advocating for modernised laws for years. It is time to scrap the old laws we ‘inherited’ from the British pre-Independence, and work on our own laws and with modern penalties at that.

Failure to do so has resulted in the crime situation we see today, and worse… will continue to see criminals thumbing their noses at authority and society.

More importantly, there is a lesson the police need to learn. Don’t be so myopic to look at a single view when it comes to the law. Just because a situation smacks of domestic violence does not mean you can’t be ‘creative’ within the law and charge the offender under other statutes. Or even under the common law. That’s just being mentally lazy, a malaise I suspect affects the top brass down.

7 Nov 2015

Long arm of the Law is really a short stick up the backside

Not too long ago, maybe about two days after the general elections held on September 7, I posted a comment on the PNM Facebook page asking Dr Keith Rowley – Prime Minister – to update the Offences Against the Person Act in Trinidad and Tobago as a matter of priority. There are a number of reasons for this; most of them have been verbalised on this blog many times before. I did also mentioned that the update to this particular Act should be done post-haste and in my comment I gave several reasons for this.

Whether or not the Prime Minister saw my comment is a matter of conjecture. But I will say this, and continue to say it, that this particular Act needs a dramatic update if not a full rewrite. This statute is an inherited British one dating back to 1925. In other words, we inherited this as a pre-Independence law, kept it when we were made Republic, and have not really moved on despite another 10 years into the future will make that particular law 100 years old!

One may say that the age of the Act does not necessarily reflect upon its efficiency – in this case it certainly does. For example, how many of you know that the most serious offence is to assault/batter a Christian priest?!

But here's my main grievance, and I will compare it to the equivalent British standard: in Trinidad and Tobago, apparently the police dunceys are unable to charge someone who commits an assault/battery unless the victim files a complaint. However, comparatively, in the UK there is no need for the victim to complain. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS, the equivalent of the DPP in Trinidad and Tobago) will prosecute regardless. And sometimes even if the victim wants the charges dropped, the CPS can continue as a matter of public interest/safety.

Not so in Trinidad and Tobago. I refer to the recent case of a very small-size woman being kicked and sent skating across the floor.

The 26-year-old woman videotaped receiving a severe beating with a steel object in a video which was circulated on social media yesterday has refused to co-operate with police investigating the incident.

Her refusal has caused investigating officers at the Arouca Police Station to consult with their legal team on whether or not the suspect, an Arouca businessman, could be charged with any offence. With her refusal to file a complaint, the victim has left police with a case that may see the perpetrator of the vicious beating walk free, despite at least seven eyewitnesses to the incident.

In a telephone interview last night, attorney and former police officer Lyndon Leu said the police could only lay charges if the victim gave a statement or if the victim’s medical notes or a statement from the doctor showed the victim admitted to being beaten by her partner.

“It is a very difficult situation for the police. They can’t do much without a statement. Without a statement from her there is no victim,” Leu said.

He said the video would have been enough to arrest and detain the perpetrator for 48 hours but police needed more in order to charge him. Leu, who saw the video on Facebook yesterday, said police could either charge him for a minor offence, which was assault by beating, or possibly a major offence of wounding with intent to cause bodily harm.

He added: “If the police are clever or innovative they can find a way to lay charges but it is still possible that the victim will find a way to sabotage the case when it goes to court. “But as funny as it sounds, she has to tell the police she did not give permission for him to beat her.”

I have never read such rubbish in my life, and it seems to me that the interpretation of the law is done by idiots!

According to Section 26 of the Domestic Violence Act, evidence obtained through a statement is admissible in court if a witness refuses to co-operate.

Section 26 of Domestic Violence Act

Where direct oral evidence of a fact would be admissible in any proceedings under this Act, a document containing a statement made by the complainant which forms part of the record compiled by the police and tending to establish that fact, shall be admissible in circumstances where—
(a) The complainant refuses to be sworn as a witness; or
(b) having been sworn as a witness, gives oral evidence which is inconsistent or contradictory to the statement forming part of the police record.

So here's my next question – why are they looking at a charge under the Domestic Violence Act rather than the Assault Against the Person Act? Or both? To me, this is just another example of the stupidity of the members of the police service in Trinidad and Tobago. It demonstrates a very singular view, a tiny pinprick of light shining through. In other words rather than looking at all the ways the law can be used, they look at the single particular situation and have only a unilateral approach to that one problem – one solution mindset.

When I think about this situation only three words come to mind: FFS…