We are also deeply concerned at some of the reactions to the announcement of the state of emergency, and while we had anticipated much uninformed noise, we are alarmed at the statements and actions of those who purport to hold positions of responsibility.
The declaration of a state of emergency is an extremely serious measure to impose upon a society, and it must not be done lightly, or hurriedly, except (in the latter case) in times of serious disaster, insurrection or where the level of crime has reached intolerable levels. No sane person would question that this level has been reached in TT. Perhaps it might have been more desirable to have had the security forces out on the streets when the announcement was made, and the arrests and detentions of “known gang leaders”, “known drug lords” and “known money launderers” would have happened before the word “Emergency” was even heard. This might have allowed the police to grab the “heavy rollers” before they had the time to get away.
We are also concerned at the antics of some persons in the “show business” end of the fight against crime. We believe that the police must be circumspect and humane in their patrols and searches and we commend the Police Service Social and Welfare Association for reminding their members of this. The police need the support of the media, and must be subject to a reasonable level of criticism. But any type of uninformed commentary and promotion of rumour as fact are clearly out of order, and might well be considered inflammatory by the police, and indeed, the society at large.
There appears to have been an overwhelming outpouring of support for the state of emergency from a desperate society, which has lived in fear and horror for too long. However, the criticisms have been from predictable sources: the Opposition PNM, and the Trade Union Movement. They are, of course, entitled to their opinions and even moreso the right to freely express their views in a democratic society such as Trinidad and Tobago certainly enjoys.
We can accept the PNM’s criticisms relative to what they have termed “the confusion and clear lack of an action plan.” However, they must hold a high degree of responsibility for having let the crime situation reach where it has.
But all of the objectors, as responsible citizens, and we hope that this description does apply to them, must avoid fanning the flames of confrontation or attempting to seek some form of political martyrdom from this situation.
Likewise, the Government, as it seeks to shore up its position, must resist actions that are not absolutely necessary, and will not bring charges of human rights violations upon them. We advise them to proceed with caution.