Commissioner Gibbs who was in Brazil attending a conference returned home at about 1.30 pm yesterday and is due to resume official duties today. Calls to his cellphone proved futile. Ewatski is on vacation leave and is back in his native Canada. This leave ends next Tuesday.
Gibbs left Trinidad last Friday to be an observer at a meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). He was expected to attend the conference in which a memorandum of understanding was signed between the United States and the European Union to strengthen ties in alleviating the drug trade through South America, West Africa and Europe. However, due to the State of Emergency being declared Commissioner Gibbs was forced to cut short his attendance and return home.
Newsday understands the Commissioner was invited at short notice to attend the conference and used his Canadian Passport to travel to Brazil. However, on his arrival at the airport in Brazil he was reportedly detained for several hours by immigration officers because he did not have a Brazilian visa.
The Commissioner was able to get his office in Trinidad to organise a Brazilian visa which was then made available to him electronically and he was allowed to leave the airport. Senior police sources said when the police commissioner leaves the country the only person who is notified is the Minister of National Security.
However, in a release issued yesterday, the PSC chaired by noted criminologist Prof Ramesh Deosaran, noted: “We as yet have heard nothing from Commissioner Gibbs in relation to this incident which by media reports appears to be a tremendous embarrassment not only to the Police Service of Trinidad and Tobago and by extension the Police Service Commission but also to the entire nation of Trinidad and Tobago as it appears that his detention may have been the result of Commissioner Gibbs not having a visa for such entry into Brazil.”
“The Police Service Commission wishes to signal its alarm and concern over the procedure and protocol employed by the Commissioner of Police for his leave of absence from the country and his possible leave of absence from duty in the Office of Commissioner of Police.”
The PSC also noted that neither Commissioner Gibbs or DCP Ewatski sought to notify them (the PSC) properly of their absences. “While it appears that the Commissioner of Police may have been absent for a period of less than seven days, questions may arise as to the absence of Deputy Commissioner Ewatski.
According to the release the PSC will be asking the Commissioner and his DCP in separate letters what are their strategic objectives, goals and plans of the Police Service during this period of a state of emergency. According to the PSC they also intend to ask the two officers their plans, contingencies and safeguards which shall be put in place to ensure that there are no breaches of the rights of members of the public over and above the limits as allowed by the Constitution as it is clear that in order go get the public’s support for this measure, it is necessary to garner and engender the public’s trust and confidence that the exercises will be carried out in a fair, balanced and humane manner, with the fullest respect for the dignity of persons and their property and devoid of excesses and abuses of power.