Trinidad and Tobago PM Persad-Bissessar announces “limited state of emergency” to fight crime

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced a limited state of emergency and curfew in ‘hotspots’ in Trinidad and Tobago to deal with escalating crime. The measure took effect on Sunday night at midnight.

Speaking at a press conference just before 8 pm on Sunday at her private residence in Phillipines, the Prime Minister said that the proclamation giving effect to the decision was on its way to His Excellency the President for signing. The proclamation will be accompanied by the Emergency Powers Regulations which sets out more details of the limited state of emergency and the Emergency Curfew Order which will be put into place to allow for curfews in certain areas at various times.

The decision followed her meeting with the National Security Council and a special Cabinet meeting which lasted several hours and was expected to continue following the press conference.

Here’s the text of PM Persad-Bissessar’s presentation: “The entire nation has been rocked with the recent tragic news of the spate of murders over the past few days. The situation has reached proportions which the government must respond to in the most definitive manner possible. I am advised that one of the causations for the spike in murders is ironically linked to the success by the police in the discovery of large drug hauls with values in excess of twenty million dollars in just one raid. These large sums of money simply do not disappear from the drug trade without consequences and in some of the cases now occurring, this is the result.

The question though isn’t just what is causing it but how do we deal with it?

As you know, we have deployed more financial and human resources than any government in recent time in dealing with the scourge of crime and until this recent upsurge the nation had been encouraged by the decline shown by year to years statistics. But a problem of this nature that has been the result of years of neglect will not disappear overnight and we reassess day by day each strategy deployed and how effective it is in achieving short term and long term objectives in reducing crime.

But the current crime spree dictates that more must be done and stronger action has to be employed now. The situation cannot continue like this without a response commensurate with the wanton acts of violence and lawlessness; it must be a response as well that will halt the current spike in gang activity and crime in general in the shortest possible time.

After much deliberation with the National Security Council and members of the Cabinet it has been agreed that the government consider the imposition of a limited state of emergency in hot spots across the country. Such a consideration must of course have the agreement of the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, His Excellency, George Maxwell Richards​ and I will be meeting with him to discuss this matter.

The limited state of emergency will allow us to achieve a number of things in relation to crime reduction which would not be prudent for me to disclose in advance of the action taken. We are aware that such a decision will have an impact on the daily lives of innocent, law abiding citizens in these areas but I feel confident that they will recognise and appreciate the need to protect them and bring the current crime surge affecting them under control.

We have the will to tackle the crime problem in Trinidad and Tobago and the commitment to place every resource at our disposal towards waging and winning this war on crime.

We will succeed. The nation will not be held to ransom by marauding groups of thugs bent on creating havoc on our society. The limited state of emergency in hot spots across Trinidad and Tobago is merely part of a larger aggressive reaction response by the government.

As these measures are being deployed using both out police and military we ask all citizens to bear with the inconveniences that may arise from time to time. This is in everyone’s interest.

In fact, I intend to hold discussions with the Leader of the Opposition to seek his party’s support with certain legislative matters in Parliament. Trinidad and Tobago comes first. Nothing is more important than the right of each citizen to be protected and to enjoy a life of peace and tranquility.”

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