Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner declined to comment directly about the release of these persons but insisted that it showed that the rule of law in the country is working.
Speaking with reporters following the opening of the rehabilitated Laventille Road, McDonald, who is also an attorney, said, “When you detain someone and you want to have a successful conviction, you must have the evidence. If there is no evidence, what will happen? It’s as simple as that.”
Reminding reporters that she made this point during debate in the House of Representatives earlier this month on a motion to extend the state of emergency, McDonald said, “I did say that I don’t think that the Government know what they are looking for.”
Reiterating the Opposition PNM’s position that the Anti-Gang Act should have been used to treat with persons who are suspected to be gang members, McDonald said the persons detained by the security forces have been held on matters such as maintenance, drugs and gang related offences. “We need not have a state of emergency to arrest those persons. You had the legislation and you could have utilised the legislation (Anti-Gang Act),” she said.
Asked about the release of these 21 men, Warner said, “Those things don’t come under me and I am not the MP for this constituency.” However he said, “One thing you are sure about is that the rule of law is working and that for me is important because if it was not working, we would not have had this.”
Asked whether the release of the men raised questions about whether Government made the right decision in calling a state of emergency or should have relied on the Anti-Gang Act instead,
Warner replied, “I am not batting out my crease at all. That is for the Attorney General and the Prime Minister.”