Letters to the Editor

Extract best practices from SOEs

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Recently the leader of the Opposition and president of the People's National Party (PNP) Dr Peter Phillips indicated that the Opposition would not be supporting any more extensions of the states of emergency (SOE) that are how in effect. Many have expressed that this is not a good move on the part of the PNP, but let us examine a few facts regarding the present situation before coming to a conclusion.

Firstly, an SOE can and should only be declared under special circumstances, such as events or occurrences that may have taken place which would have put the State and the citizens in danger, especially during time of natural disaster, namely earthquake, hurricane or flooding. It can also be declared in time of war or if there is an outbreak of an infectious disease or diseases.

The reason for the declaration of these states of emergencies were the fact that in sections of the island criminals were seemingly out of control as there were over 300 murders reported in one parish.

The duration of a SOE should never exceed one month, unless extended by Parliament, and this would only be done if there was no change in the situation that called for the declaration in the first place. The reason for such a short time is that during an SOE extraordinary powers are given to the security forces, such as the power to detain indefinitely or to search without a warrant — clearly these are violations of citizens' rights, so how long can such measures exist in any civil society. Should we violate the rights of the majority because of the few?

Looking at the whole picture we must admit that an SOE should only be declared as an act of last resort or desperation. Given the circumstances that would warrant such a declaration the security forces must move with alacrity to ensure that the situation is returned to normal so that the rights of law-abiding citizens be returned to them within the shortest possible time. We cannot “mash up” society to fix it; that would be like cutting off our nose to spite your face.

The fundamental question is how after one year of an SOE neither the Government nor the security forces have been able to return the areas to some semblance of normalcy or even examine or analyse the situation so they can extract the best practices to be applied to a crime plan once things return to normal, because in retrospect that has got to be the number one priority to return to normalcy.

One would think that after all this time they would have come up with something to at least curtail the criminal element in these areas now under enhanced security measures. If at all the SOEs have worked as well as the Government and the security forces have claimed then going back to normal and lifting the measures should be the next natural move.

Like any other activity or project in any field one would believe that the natural move would be to note the best practices and put them into rotation in others area and in the same areas after the SOE has been lifted.

In the final analysis, I must call on the powers that be to examine the lessons learnt and best practices of the SOEs and use them once the measure has been lifted and everything goes back to normal.

In all honesty, an SOE cannot and should not become an everyday thing or a way of life.

Gary Rowe


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