Justice Frank Sepeersad entered the political fray when he called on politicians to support the anti-gang legislation.
Seepersad, the judge who hears most of the controversial cases in the High Court, may have just recused himself from hearing any matters relating to such legislation.
Delivering his sermon at the Marabella Presbyterian Church on Sunday, Seepersad said there must be unity in the approach to counteract gangs.
His comments came two weeks after the Anti-Gang Bill 2017 was defeated in Parliament. The Bill failed to get the three-fifths majority.
Twenty-one government members voted for, while 12 Opposition MPs voted against, with one abstention.
Saying a decade ago the then Justice Anthony Carmona warned against the emergence of gangs operating under the guise of social programs, Seepersad noted that ending the scourge of gang activity will not be simple or immediate.
Seepersad said, “We are currently not legislatively equipped to deal with the clear and present danger which gang activity presents and the common law is woefully inadequate to abate this type of conduct.
“ With respect to the anti-gang legislative issue, the Court of Appeal considered the provisions of the anti-gang legislation in the case of Kevin Stewart and noted that it imposed stringent operational requirements for the law to be properly enforced.”
He added, “ The court pointed out that proof of gang activity was no slam dunk issue. There can be no rational reason to be fearful of any legislation which seeks to eviscerate gang activity and our courts would always jealously guard, defend and protect the rights of citizens.
“As to legislative action, the requisite training and resources must be made available to effectively identify, monitor and punish gang activity,” he explained. Seepersad said from a civic standpoint, citizens must develop a sense of civic pride and responsibility.
“Our society is under attack and the criminals are relentless. We have failed to foster and develop a sense of citizenship and a national identity…But in order to focus on our success as a country and as a people we must first lift our eyes from the potential divisions that surround us.
“In such a small land we have so many grounds for divisiveness: African vs Indian, red vs yellow, rich vs poor, Christian vs Hindu, West vs, North vs Central, Trinidad vsTobago. Our diversity should be our most prized asset not our most pressing liability.”