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TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO DEFENCE FORCE (TTDF)

1. What is the definition of a `State of Public Emergency' (SOE)? Generally, a SOE is a governmental declaration to suspend derogable human rights under the Constitution. A SOE has been legally construed to mean `It is a situation of exceptional and imminent danger or crisis affecting the general public, as distinct from particular groups, and constituting a threat to the organised life of the community which composes the State in question: Lawless v Ireland (The Lawless Case), Report of the European Commission (Adopted on 19 December 1959), Application No. 332/57, para. 90 (Majority opinion of MM Wadlock, Berg, Faber, Crosbie and Erim). The Trinidad and Tobago Republican Constitution (1976) by virtue of section 2 is the supreme law of the land and any other law or act that is inconsistent with the Constitution is null and void to the extent of that inconsistency. The Trinidad and Tobago Constitution vests constitutional and legal jurisdiction in the Office of his Excellency the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in accordance with section 8 (1) (a) and (b) of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to declare the issuance and/or invocation of a `Proclamation' a State of Public Emergency of several grounds such as `an Act of War' under S. 8 (2) (a) ; a natural disaster for example, `an earthquake' under S. 8 (2) (b) and in the case of the Proclamation dated 21 August 2011 and issued by His Excellency Professor George Maxwell Richards, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago `a situation of such a threatening nature and extensive scale that is likely to endanger the public safety or deprive the community or any substantial portion of the community of supplies or services essential to life' under S. 8 (2) (c). Our Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in her address to the nation also identified that the institution of the SOE was precipitated by a spate of eleven (11) murders over a seventy-two (72) hours period and the wanton shootings of several other persons without any discernable motives.

2. What is the role of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force during a State of Emergency? The role of the Defence Force during this SOE is premised on the key tenets of this SOE as articulated by the Honourable Minister of National Security Senator the Honourable Brigadier Sandy namely to a. stop homicide, b. recovery of firearms and ammunition, c. eradication of gangs and e. to conduct seizure of drugs. In keeping with the mandate of the government the Acting Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Kenrick Maharaj, acting in accordance with the ostensible authority as the `operational commander ` by virtue of sections 8 (2) and 191 (2) of the Defence Act Chapter 14:01 Laws of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has directed that the Mission of all members of the Force during this SOE shall be `to deny the movement of gang members, deny manoeuvre by criminal elements in any designated Area of Operation (AO), seize illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives and narcotics, disrupt any identified potential for serious crime, other illegal activities and to provide support to law enforcement upon request to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS)'.

3. What is the extent of the powers of the Military in a State of Emergency? The President acting in accordance with Section 7 of the Constitution has issued Regulations namely the Emergency Powers Regulations 2011. The main legal authority for members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force is contained in Regulation 22 (1) which states that the Commissioner of Police may request assistance from the Chief of Defence Staff during this SOE and where such a request for assistance has been exercised under Reg. 22 (1) all members of the Force acting under the directions of the Chief of Defence Staff `shall have the powers of a police officer' for the duration of the SOE by virtue of Reg. 22(2). The powers of members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force under these Regulations include: Reg. 10 -power to stop and search for firearms.

Reg. 15- -power to enter and search any premises; power to stop and search any vessel (Coast Guard), vehicle and person.

Reg. 16-power to arrest and detain person(s): TTDF member must have reason to suspect a person(s) is acting or is about to act in a manner prejudicial to public safety and security; use of force must be reasonably and necessary and their shall be no detention of person(s) in excess of 24hrs (extension allowed up to seven (7) days under authority of a Magistrate or Assistant Superintendent).

Reg. 18- any female persons subject to a search must be search by another female TTDF member.

Reg. 21 - imposes an obligation on drivers of any motor vehicle to stop when instructed to do so by a TTDF member.

4. Which rights of citizens are normally affected during a state of emergency?

All derogable rights and freedoms enshrined under Sections 4 and 5 of the Trinidad and Tobago Constitution such as the freedom of movement and freedom of association and assembly under S. 4(g) and (j) are curtailed and /or suspended in a material respect.

5. Do the powers bestowed upon the military supersede that of the police during a state of emergency?

The powers vested in members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force is subject to the powers which is been delegated by the President to the Commissioner of Police under Regulation 4 of the Emergency Powers Regulations 2011. The Chief of Defence Staff is acting based on a request for assistance from the Commissioner of Police under Regulation 22(1).

6. What mechanisms are in place to treat with any allegations of misconduct or breaches of the powers that the members of the Defence Force now possess? The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force has a robust two (2) tier system of military justice which is provided for under the Defence Act Chapter 14:01 Laws of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Tier 1 provides Summary mechanisms deals with less serious of minor breaches of service discipline which is normally adjudicated over by an Officer in Command (OC) or a Commanding Officer (CO) both of whom exercise jurisdiction similar to that of a Magistrate in the Magistrates' Courts. The main aim of the disciplinary process in Tier 1 is to expeditious treat with the offender and returns him/her to his respective Unit in order to not disrupt the Operational Effectiveness of that Unit. Tier 2 provides for trial by Court-Martial which resembles the High Court Criminal Court. Access to this Tier is based on an election by the alleged offender or based on a recommendation by the Commanding Officer based on the serious nature of the offence. At Tier 2 the offender is entitled to have a Defending Officer as well as his own civilian Legal Counsel at the trial which is adjudicated over by a civilian Judge Advocate and the members will normally comprise Commissioned Officers. The punishment imposed is quite severe and can result in discharge and/or imprisonment. The Military Justice System at Tier 2 allows for the exercise jurisdiction over any person subject to military law who commits a civil offence under Section 78 of the Defence Act Chapter 14:01.

For the period March 2010 to July 2011 a total of seven (7) service personnel were prosecuted by Court-martial.

7. How can members of the public assist the Police and the Defence Force during this state of emergency? Through your commitment, co-operation and compliance with all the lawful directions of all members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. Through the exercise of vigilance and due diligence in the conduct of routine activities. Through your love for your country. Through the dissemination of any useful information to the Civil and Military Affairs hot line numbers 634-3221 or 634-4554.

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