The Trinidad and Tobago government Thursday said it would not follow its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbour, Barbados, in implementing a gun amnesty aimed at curbing gun related crimes on the twin island republic.
“A gun amnesty works in certain countries and certain circumstances. We don’t think that is applicable to Trinidad and Tobago,” National Security Minister Stuart Young told a news conference following the weekly Cabinet meeting.
Earlier this week, the Barbados government announced a weeklong gun amnesty with Attorney General Dale Marshall telling legislators that the amnesty would begin on Saturday.
“If you have ammunition and you know you have no lawful reason to have, take it to a police station day or night, no questions asked,” Marshall told Parliament during the debate on the amendment to the Bail Act.
Young told reporters that in Trinidad and Tobago, the “guns are being used to carry out criminal enterprises.
“This is not as in the old days, someone having a rusty old revolver with two rounds of ammunition. There are very sophisticated weapons that unfortunately are here in Trinidad and Tobago and we don’t think there is a benefit to a gun amnesty.
‘We think persons will just bring in older guns but those who are using the guns to commit crimes in Trinidad and Tobago are not going to put down their guns,” Young said.
He told reporters that that new legislation targeting criminals, who are granted bail and continue to carry out gun related activities in the country.
“That is coming,” he said, adding “I have gotten the go ahead to bring legislation that goes even beyond what I had suggested last week. So let’s wait for that I just want to crystalize the exact points, but absolutely I am fully, fully behind that.
“I went to the Prime Minister (Dr. Keith Rowley) with the suggestions and he told me to go ahead. I have spoken to the Attorney General. So very shortly, in the next few days, you will hear about the type of legislation that I intend to take to Parliament dealing specifically with that because we are not going to sit down. This is a time to do things outside of the box. It is not business as usual and there is not a single law abiding citizen in Trinidad and Tobago, who will not say things like bail and other things when it comes to repeat offenders with firearms, the law should not be different,” Young said.
Last year, 516 people were murdered here and so far this year, more than 100 persons have been killed, Most of the killings here are gun-related.
Young also told reporters that the government would be bringing legislation to Parliament on Friday regarding the forfeiture of property obtained through criminal activities.
“Tomorrow it will be a very robust debate in Parliament and we wait to see what happens …The government has brought this legislation, the Attorney general has spoken about it extensively and we are ready for tomorrow.
“This is something that is going to benefit Trinidad and Tobago. This is something that is going to benefit our society. This particular piece of legislation goes directly into the heart of eradication of corruption and reduction of corruption. So anyone who says they don’t want to have to explain where their wealth has come from, immediately in my humble opinion in my view , has something to hide,” Young said, when told by reporters that the main opposition United national Congress (UNC) has already raised objection to the proposed legislation.