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Rowley warns his government will not accept lawlessness

Friday, November 24, 2017

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley today warned that his administration would not allow for lawlessness in Trinidad and Tobago and instructed the police and the security forces to take “any and all resources' to ensure law and order.

Rowley, speaking at a news conference, said that Thursday's action by residents of Beetham, just on the outskirts of the capital, following the detention of two people, could have been worse if the armed police had decided to take action to preserve their lives and that of innocent people.

“God knows what might have happened,” said Rowley, flanked at the news conference by the leadership of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, the Defence Force, and the Coast Guard. “The conduct that was described yesterday had the effect of shutting down the national capital, terrorising those who were caught in their absence of free movement, a condition that is guaranteed under the constitution, and the trauma that the national community experienced yesterday will not and must not be encouraged or tolerated by the national community.

“Regardless of the circumstances that may prevail in the communities there is no excuse for the lawlessness that we saw yesterday,” Rowley said, warning that he would not allow Trinidad and Tobago to go down the road that exists in some Caribbean countries where certain people believe that they must be in control of areas and even try to prevent members of the law enforcement agencies from entering those areas.

Beetham residents began blocking the roads and the highway leading in and out of the capital following the arrest of two “community leaders” who were later released several hours later. But the action by the residents led to bumper to bumper traffic for hours as motorists fled the capital in droves to escape being trapped during the afternoon rush hour.

Some car owners reported that their vehicles were hit by stray bullets and police said they received reports that motorists were robbed as they remained stuck in traffic. Some reported that their windows were damaged while some delivery trucks were reportedly looted.

The residents later denied they blocked the roads and shot at officers over the arrests, adding that the protest was a plea for jobs in the area.

But Rowley told reporters that his administration's support for law enforcement is “unwavering” and that all national security agencies “have the full support of the state to enforce the law in Trinidad and Tobago regardless of who you are, where you are and what your status is in this country”.

He warned that without that, “what we will be accepting is anarchy, and persons who are calling on others to break the law, to incite violence and who justify it in whatever way will find no sympathy from the government of Trinidad and Tobago”.

Rowley also called on the law enforcement agencies to crack down on the actions of criminals who were evicting people from their homes unlawfully and then occupying them.

“I am hereby instructing the commissioner of police publicly to use all and any resource available to him authorised under the law of Trinidad and Tobago to seek out all such persons who have evicted persons from their homes unlawfully and ensure that lawful occupancy prevails,” he said, adding that the National Security Minister, retired Brigadier Edmund Dillon, had also been told to ensure that no citizen stands in the way of the police in carrying out their duties.

“I am herby letting the citizenry know that this is the time when all good men, all good women, should stand on the line of law enforcement and let all those who have criminal intent in this country know that they stand alone where these matters are concerned,” Rowley added.

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