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Monday, 22 August 2011

State of Emergency: Trinidad and Tobago

Q: What are the laws regarding the SoE in Trinbago?

A: Our Prime Minister, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced a State of Emergency in Trinidad and Tobago on 21 August 2011 at 8PM. The laws relating to the SoE are enshrined in The Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. However, my personal view is that this SoE did not meet the requirements set out in Section 8(2) for it to be declared.

Exceptions for Emergencies

7. (1) Without prejudice to the power of Parliament to make provision in the premise. but subject to this section, where any period of public emergency exists, the President may, due regard being had to the circumstances of any situation likely to arise or exist during such period, make regulations for the purpose of dealing with that situation and issue orders and instructions for the purpose of the exercise of any powers conferred on him or any other person by any Act referred to in subsection (3) or instrument made under this section or any such Act.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), regulations made under that subsection may, subject to section 11, make provision for the detention of persons.
(3) An Act that is passed during a period of public emergency and is expressly declared to have effect only during that period or any regulations made under subsection (1) shall have effect even though inconsistent with sections 4 and 5 except in so far as its provisions may be shown not to be reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation that exists during that period.

Period of public emergency.

8. (1) Subject to this section, for the purposes of this Chapter, the President may from time to time make a Proclamation declaring that a state of public emergency exists.
(2) A Proclamation made by the President under subsection (1) shall not be effective unless it contains a declaration that the President is satisfied-
(a) that a public emergency has arisen as a result of the imminence of a state of war between Trinidad and Tobago and a foreign State;
(b) that a public emergency has arisen as a result of the occurrence of any earthquake, hurricane, flood, fire, outbreak of pestilence or of infectious disease, or other calamity whether similar to the foregoing or not; or
(c) that action has been taken, or is immediately threatened. by any person, of such a nature and on so extensive a scale, as to be likely to endanger the public safety or to deprive the community or any substantial portion of the community of supplies or services essential to life.

Grounds for, And initial duration of Proclamation.

9. (1) Within three days of the making of the Proclamation, the President shall deliver to the Speaker for presentation to the House of Representatives a statement setting out the specific grounds on which the decision to declare the existence of a state of public emergency was based, and a date shall be fixed for a debate on this statement as soon as practicable but in any event not later than fifteen days from the date of the Proclamation.
(2) A Proclamation made by the President for the purposes of and in accordance with section 8 shall, unless previously revoked, remain in force for fifteen days.

Extension of Proclamation

10. (1) Before its expiration the Proclamation may be extended from time to time by resolution supported by a simple majority vote of the House of Representatives, so however that no extension exceeds three months and the extensions do not in the aggregate exceed six months. (2) The Proclamation may be further extended from time to time for not more than three months at any one time, by a resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament and supported by the votes of not less than three-fifths of all the members of each House.
(3) The Proclamation may be revoked at any time by a resolution supported by a simple majority vote of the House of Representatives.
(4) In this Chapter, "period of public emergency" means any period during which-
(a) Trinidad and Tobago is engaged in any war; or
(b) there is in force a Proclamation by the President declaring that a state of public emergency exists; or
(c) there is in force a resolution of both Houses of Parliament supported by the votes of not less than two thirds of all the members of each House declaring that democratic institutions in Trinidad and Tobago are threatened by subversion.

Detention of Persons.

11. (1) Where any person who is lawfully detained by virtue only of such an Act or regulations as is referred to in section 7 so requests at any time during the period of that detention and thereafter not earlier than six months after he last made such a request during that period, his case shall be reviewed by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law and presided over by a person appointed by the Chief Justice from among the persons entitled to practise in Trinidad and Tobago as barristers or solicitors.
(2) On any review by a tribunal in pursuance of subsection (1) of the case of any detained person, the tribunal may make recommendations concerning the necessity or expediency of continuing his detention to the authority by whom it was ordered but, unless otherwise provided by law, that authority shall not be obliged to act in accordance with such recommendations.