The state of emergency, and powers of the security agencies under this, applies to all of T&T and not only the six "hot spot areas", according to National Security Minister John Sandy. He stressed that yesterday during a media briefing at the Ministry of National Security, Port-of-Spain. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Sunday night announced a "limited state of emergency" and a 9 pm to 5 am curfew in "hot spot" areas. Sandy said there had been a misconception that the state of emergency applies only to the six "hot spot" areas where the 9 pm to 5 am curfew was in force. Sandy said criminal elements who would want to "migrate" from "hot spot" areas to other parts of the country to avoid being nabbed, should be warned that the state of emergency applies all over T&T. He added: "So let it be known that the state of emergency exists in the entire country and the powers given to the police and the military exist in all areas of T&T."
He said areas outside the "hot spots" where the curfew obtained, could hold activities beyond 9 pm, but, he added, most seemed to be working along with the curfew times in the six "hot spots." Before Sandy spoke yesterday, senior counsel Dana Seetahal had said the state of emergency was not "limited" to only the six "hot spot" areas since it applied to all of Trinidad and Tobago, according to the proclamation signed by President George Maxwell Richards. As a result, the armed forces' wide powers of arrest, detention and search under the state of emergency also applied to all parts of T&T and not only the six so called "hot spot" areas, Seetahal added. She cited the order by President Richards. Seetahal said: "The salient point here is the President's statement that a "state of emergency exists in Trinidad and Tobago. "He did not say a 'limited state of emergency' exists. He said all of T&T and therefore it means that the state of emergency is not limited to the six so-called 'hot spot' areas as people may feel."
Seetahal added: "It means that the state of emergency applies to all of Trinidad and Tobago and therefore all special powers of the armed forces can be used all over T&T as well." Seetahal said the 9 pm to 5 am curfew was the only thing that was limited to the six "hot spot: areas in North, South and Central. Seetahal explained that a limited state of emergency applied in the city of Port-of-Spain only in August 1995 when the then PNM administration invoked that to remove former house speaker Occah Seapaul. The area near Seapaul's Mary Street, St Clair, home was cordoned off by police at that time. Opposition PNM MP Dr Amery Browne, who said he had received similar legal advice, criticised Government on indicating the state of emergency was "limited."
He said: "The Attorney General led the charge in trying to convince the country it was a limited state of emergency when in fact it is a national state of emergency in all of T&T, authorised by the President as requested by the Government. "So once again the Government has built a foundation of lies and deceit to try to justify their objectives and it was a deliberate and deceitful way of introducing the removal of constitutional rights of the public." Browne said that not admitting it was a nationwide state of emergency was part of the PP's "modus operandi". He added: "They should not even speak about extensions of the situation without properly justifying the current one. "Parliament needs to be convened with immediate effect. Do not wait for 15 days to go to Parliament on this situation. "The public's representatives must be given the opportunity to hold the Government to account for their actions. "They opened the Parliament and closed it immediately right after. So they must reopen it and discuss all these activities that are taking place if the primary institution of democracy is to be maintained."