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Dubious silence

LAST Friday in the House of Representatives, Opposition Chief Whip Ganga Singh made some startling revelations about the scandalous discovery of cocaine being exported from TT in diplomatic bags. Singh, in fact, called the names of three employees of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Jacqueline Britton, Bisoon Boodhan and Hyacinth Bocan, to whom, he said, the quantities of illegal drugs were addressed in the respective consulates of Toronto, London and New York. Since then, we have heard nothing from the Foreign Affairs Ministry. How then is the country to interpret this silence?

If the UNC Opposition member's statement were untrue, if he were acting so irresponsibly as to link these three employees untruthfully to this underhand cocaine traffic, then surely the Ministry would have reacted promptly, not only to condemn Singh for an outrageous act, but also to set the record straight with respect to the three consular officers. But we have had no such reaction from the Ministry and, as a logical consequence, we must assume that Singh's statement contained the truth.

The country, then, would want to know what has the Ministry done about these three employees. Have they been suspended pending the completion of Police investigations? Or are they still on the job, performing as if nothing had happened? Perhaps most important of all is whether or not an investigation is still in progress and whether it is as deep, persistent and comprehensive as this pernicious crime requires. Trafficking in drugs is perhaps a more vicious business than corruption in government since it has spawned a new level of violence and brutality in our society, and one expects that both the civil and police authorities would be as concerned, as zealous and as determined to root out one as they would the other.

The Opposition Chief Whip can hardly be wrong in pointing out that the cocaine discovered in TT diplomatic bags was part of the operations of a transatlantic and transpacific ring operating within the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Who knows how long such a clandestine "practice" has been going on? Maybe for years. And how much cocaine has been smuggled out of the country through this secret channel before the "route" was discovered? According to Singh, some 48 diplomatic bags leave the country every year for TT's 12 missions abroad. And each bag has a holding capacity of three kilogrammes.

Law-abiding citizens, concerned about the crime situation in our country, must feel a sense of outrage over this cocaine discovery. Apart from the destructive evil of the trade itself, the country's image has been further tarnished by this cynical and cunning breach of its national security. To operate such an international ring, involving three major cities, requires many more than two persons, and the country will expect that the Police will be vigorous and persistent in their investigations until they bring to justice all the culprits engaged in it. In its turn, one expects the Ministry at least to suspend all the employees engaged in despatching and receiving diplomatic bags between Port-of-Spain and these three missions, until the investigations are completed. Continuing silence on this matter will not breed public confidence that the proper action is being taken.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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