Political scientist Dr Hamid Ghany said yesterday among major concerns with the state of emergency are the mixed messages from the Government and its public relations. Ghany expressed concern "over the use of the word 'limited' in relation to the declaration of a state of emergency." He said the manner in which the word had been used was open to several interpretations by the public. Ghany noted that the state of emergency applied at all of T&T and therefore could not be considered "limited." Another interpretation, he pointed out, was that emergency orders made under the Emergency Powers Regulations are "limited" to certain areas and do cover the entire country.
He felt there were too many conflicts in the way words were being used by the Government. In addition, he told the T&T Guardian, the lack of proper public relations was not helping with the public's perceptions of why the state of emergency was called and how its success would be measured. Pressed on whether he thought a mechanism other than a state of emergency could have been used to deal with escalating crime, Ghany said if one examined policies used by previous governments over the last decade, it becomes apparent that "somebody had to eventually use the state of emergency policy."
He added, however, it was important to remove the political parties from consideration of the range of policy options available to fight crime. He said the declaration of a state of emergency was recommended about eight years ago but was not used as there were other policy options available. Ghany said those policy options included dialogue with community leaders; Operation Anaconda; the creation and operationalisation of the Special Anti Crime Unit of T&T (SAUTT); and the Bail Amendments Act. All had failed, he said. "It would be apparent that the State was running out of policy options to fight criminal activity in the country," he said.