Opposition criticizes ‘state of emergency’

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago: The Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) has classified the government’s imposition of a limited state of emergency as a panicked response to rising crime.

PNM leader Dr. Keith Rowley said the coalition People’s Partnership Government’s decision to impose a limited state of emergency in Trinidad and Tobago underscores the fact that it has no plans to deal with the rising crime situation in the country.

“Our initial thought is that this is a panic response which has not been the product of any serious deliberations,” said Dr. Rowley.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced the limited state of emergency last Sunday and said it would be for “hot spots” across the country from midnight, as her administration battles to deal with an upsurge in criminal activities that included the murder of 11 people over a 48-hour period.

But Rowley said this announcement came just one day after Dr. Roodal Moonilal, the leader of Government Business in the Parliament, informed the nation that a state of emergency was not being considered and was not a response the government would be considering.

He said the Opposition “had opened the door” for talks with the Persad-Bissessar administration on dealing with the crime situation, but “clearly the government did not think that was useful…and the government has gone ahead and done something”.

The government said an eight-hour curfew is part of the limited state of emergency that it hopes will quell the rising crime situation in the country.

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said that since the limited state of emergency went into effect at midnight on Sunday, “we are seeing an avalanche of people coming forward to provide information”.

He said a shootout on Monday, August 22, between the police and a group of bandits in Arima, which resulted in the death of two of the bandits, should be regarded as a signal that “the war is on”.

Retired Brigadier John Sandy, the Minister of National Security, said while the 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. (local time) curfew would curtail the activities of law abiding citizens, the objective is to eliminate crime.

As of press time, the state of emergency and curfew were still in effect.

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