Rowley questioned why Government did not exercise this option to surgically deal with criminal elements in the country. Claiming Government opted for a state of emergency because it would give it political bonuses such as preventing the labour movement from staging a nationwide strike, and create a long enough lull in crime in the country so it could boast it reduced crime, Rowley wondered whether this was “the beginning of a lot of bad days for this country”.
Addressing a news conference at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Port-of-Spain, Rowley said all of this country’s governments have attempted to bring crime under control during their respective tenures and “governance is about options”.
Recalling the reasons why Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the Government announced a limited state of emergency last Sunday, Rowley said the Anti-Gang Act which was passed by Parliament in May gave the Government “a tool which no other government had”. Rowley said the Act granted considerable powers to members of the Police Service, Defence Force and other security forces, including the powers to arrest persons and detain them without a warrant for periods up to 72 hours.
Rowley said the Anti-Gang Act would have given the Government the power to surgically deal with criminal elements in the country “without disturbing the country’s equilibrium”.
Claiming that Attorney General Anand Ramlogan had advised the Government “from his pulpit” to exercise the option of a state of emergency for political benefit, Rowley said what the Anti-Gang legislation does not do is “put a damper” on civil disturbances and trade union activity.
Rowley said while reducing crime in the country to zero was a laudable objective but “at what cost to the rest of the economy and to the rest of the country”.
Noting the critical role played by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in combating money laundering which is closely connected to the drug trade, Rowley claimed Persad-Bissessar recently vetoed the recommendation advanced by the Public Service Commission (PSC) of persons to serve as director of the FIU.
“The Prime Minister of TT must tell the country today, in this state of emergency, on what basis has she vetoed the appointment of the person chosen by the PSC after proper process,” Rowley declared.