Last update: 12-Dec-2013 4:50 am
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Unions plan court action on Roget’s arrest
The Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) is considering legal action against the State as it believes the police detainment of its leader Ancel Roget during a “peaceful protest” in Port-of-Spain was unconstitutional and politically motivated. So said Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) president Vincent Cabrera after JTUM held an emergency meeting at the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union’s head office in San Fernando on Tuesday night.
Roget, JTUM’s leader, was detained during a “silent” protest to commemorate the second anniversary of the state of emergency in front of the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain, last Wednesday. Deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson said he thought the protest was another coup attempt, as it involved people dressed in black with their faces covered. He said the face masks were a breach of the Public Holidays and Festivals Act.
In a press briefing after the meeting, Cabrera said the trade union movement’s main tool of trade was peaceful picketing. “Our forefathers won that right through blood, sweat and tears,” he said. “We will not allow any People’s Partnership government to push the police to take that right away from us. “We feel aggrieved and we are discussing with our attorneys the possibility of seeking a declaration from the court that our actions constituted an act of peaceful protest and that our human rights were violated.”
He said the Public Festivals Act needs to be reviewed. “It was not our intention to participate in any festival. The covering of our mouths with bandannas was simply to symbolise government’s attempt to silence trade union movement by the SoE,” Cabrera said. He said as soon as the police told the protesters they might be in breach of the act, they obeyed police instructions. JTUM, he said, was engaged in a struggle with the PP government.
“We have no interests in conflict or confrontation with the police.” Roget said: “Clearly, let me say this issue is a political one. It was politically motivated.” Recalling the incident, he said he was detained against his will and Richardson approached him in a very threatening manner. “He said let us go for his discussions and when I said I want no discussions, he asked me the threatening question if I was resisting arrest.”
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