Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 15th 2014 Contents Members of Los
Alumnos De San
Juan parang band
Start de Parang,
hosted by Voces
Jovenes at the
Lion's Civic Centre,
PHOTO: CLYDE LEWIS
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, September 15, 2014
Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Row-
ley is demanding answers from both Prime
Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Pres-
ident Anthony Carmona about why the
Volunteer Defence Force was called out to
provide security assistance from August
29 to January 7, 2015.
In a release issued yesterday, Rowley said
he was informed "late" on Saturday evening
that on August 29, President Carmona had
issued a proclamation calling out to duty
members of the Volunteer Defence Force
for parades during the months of August
He added that the call out was also "to
assist the civil authority (Police) in providing
security support for law enforcement activ-
ities throughout T&T leading into and
including the Christmas period, the period
August 29 to January 7, 2015."
Rowley said Section 238(1) of the Defence
Act, was clear "that it should only be invoked
in the specific situations where there is a
riot, disturbance of the peace or other emer-
gency situation taking place which the Police
Service are unable to suppress, or prevent,
or deal with."
He said he was "extremely concerned
that this should have been invoked in the
first place, and then more surprisingly, for
such a long period from the August 29 to
the January 7, 2015, over four months.
He said the Prime Minister did not inform
the nation that there was any risk or danger
to justify the use of this "drastic" power.
He called on Carmona and Persad-Bisses-
sar to "immediately provide explanations
to the nation as to why this specific power
designed only for emergency situations"
has been invoked.
Capt Alexander: Nothing unusual
The Defence Force confirmed it had requested
activation of Volunteer Defence troops over
August 29 to January 2015 but said this has
been done annually since the time of the former
People's National Movement (PNM)
Defence Force spokesman Captain Al
Alexander said the volunteer defence troops
usually provide additional resources for that
Alexander spoke to the Guardian yesterday
afternoon after PNM leader Keith Rowley
demanded that President Anthony Carmona and
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar explain
why the President had sanctioned the call-out of
officers over August 29 to January 7, 2015.
Though Rowley noted the call-out was to assist
police in providing security into and including
Christmas, he still questioned the situation.
Captain Alexander said there was nothing
unusal about the Defence Force's request since it
has been done every year since 2009 and the
requests have always been approved.
He said the situation occurred as a result of
the number of parades and ceremonial events
involving officers over August 29 to January.
Apart from patrols, he said reserves substituted
for barrack guards and other officers while other
Defence Force officers handled other national
security duties in the lead-up to Christmas and
Griffith: Govt only asked for 50 troops
National Security Minister Gary Griffith said
Government hadn't requested the call out. He
said the request was made for 50 reserves only.
Griffith said he believed that the PNM's
questions were an attempt to try and cause fear,
unease and panic towards destabilsing T&T.
Griffith added: "The troops were called out for
136 days from the 29 August to January 2015,
as a result of which the public can expect
greater visibility of joint patrols and can feel a
sense of safety and security while conducting
Griffith slammed PNM MP Colm Imbert's
criticism of the six armoured personnel carriers
which government is acquiring at a cost of $1.2m
" Much sophisticated weaponry entering T&T
over the years, including hand grenades, has
changed the way security forces must operate.
Up to recently, police were shot at and grenades
"Is Imbert saying security forces should try to
protect the public without proper protection for
themselves? What right-thinking politcian would
object to ensuring that the people we ask to go
out there to defend us, are properly protected?"
Why call out volunteer
Section 238(1) of the Defence
Act, Chap. 14:01 states:
"The President may call out the
Volunteer Defence Force or any portion
of it for actual military service with
their arms and ammunition, in aid of
the civil power in any case in which a
riot, disturbance of the peace, or other
emergency requiring such service
occurs, or is, in the opinion of the
President, anticipated as likely to occur,
and in either case to be beyond the
powers of the civil authorities to
suppress, or to prevent, or deal with."
START DE PARANG
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