The article went on to say....A Special Court will be established at the end of next month to deal on a 24-hour basis with crimes against visitors. It will be technically driven and the objective being to "send a clear signal to offenders that justice is swift and certain in Tobago".
In addition, tele-conferencing would be introduced as part of the country's laws of evidence to give the judicial process the global reach by having a victim go to a court in his or her country, take an oath and give evidence in a trial in Tobago via this mechanism.
This will remove the need to have a visitor and or victim return to the island to give evidence and face the offender in the same physical space. The THA spends large sums of money every year to bring back witnesses and victims to give evidence and for trauma treatment.
This is, of course, great news. Whilst I can't believe that any member of the legal profession could be so disgusting ( ), I am told that Tobagonian defence lawyers regularly use the most spurious reasons and will stoop to any lengths to delay trials of tourists until the visitors have left the island. The THA have then got to bring them back, clearly at high cost. Having turned up, there is no guarantee that the trial will proceed as the lawyers will try to have it postponed yet again. Naturally, there comes a point when the victim says "enough is enough" and refuses to return. The perp walks free.A three-member mission headed by PRDI coordinator Anslem Richards provided assurance of this new development in the judicial system to officials of the British Foreign Office in London three weeks ago. It included Tourism Division Research & Development Officer Sandra Hendrickson and hotelier Carlos Dillon.
Dealing with law enforcement, the team told the British Government officials there had been a change in the head of the Tobago Police Division and 19 of the 39 Scotland Yard officers (Bobbies) recruited by this country's government at an annual cost of Â£5 million will be working directly and indirectly with the island's police and other security agencies to return safety and security to Tobago.
Importantly, Richard's mission noted that this move would enhance the electronic surveillance capabilities at the ports of entry by providing real time analysis of passenger flows to and from Trinidad & Tobago.
The team also expounded on the establishment of a Department of Public Safety whose focus would be on creating a support institution for the law enforcement agencies in Tobago. The main objective of this department will be the provision of public safety support services to the citizens and visitors to the island. The major service areas include marine patrol & rescue services and beach patrols on foot and bicycle at the island's beaches and historical sites.
Richards said the British officials were convinced of the efforts of the THA and by extension the government in controlling crime in the island and would be moving to downgrade the February 17 advisory to its citizens about the crime situation here. He added that some of the initiatives his team outlined to the officials would be included in the updated advisory.
The authorities are very aware of this of course and working hard to overcome it. Hopefully the moves mentioned above will be a first step in the right direction.