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STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
SPECIAL NO. 3 SUNDAY, AUGUST 23, 1970
In the early days of the Sate of Emergency there was some belief that the emer-
gency was a genuine one; that the Government's assumption of arbitrary powers was
at least temporarily justified. TAPIA said from the beginning that the State of
Emergency was fraudulent; that it had been designed by a Government that had
lost the confidence of the people; and that its purpose was to keep Williams in
Now everyone realises that there is no justification for this assumption of
arbitrary powers. The Government has now acknowledged this by preparing an
instrument that would extend these powers indefinitely.
What it would do to you
THE drafting of the Public Order Bill is conclusive
evidence that the Government has chosen repression
as its means of dealing with the country's ills. A
few of the more obvious ways in which it would be
able to suppress legitimate dissent, or terrorise the
population if the Bill were passed can be seen by
examining its provisions:
'Public' meetings could be held only
with the permission of the Commissioner
of Police. But a 'public' meeting, accord-
ing to the Bill, might be a gathering of a
few people in a private house all that
is necessary is that the public should be
permitted to attend.
*Any organisation which holds as part
of its activities meetings 'for the dis-
--cussion of matters of public interest'
would have to apply at least once every
two weeks for permission to do so. It
would be unable to hold any emergency
meetings with lessthan seventy-two hours'
-otice. Even if the permission were always
granted, it would-be unable to plan or
publicise a schedule of meetings for a
period longer than two weeks.
Even when the 'permission had been
granted for a meeting to be held, it might
be stopped and dispersed at any time by
the police at their discretion.
A citizen of another West Indianterri-
ory would be liable to a fine of one
thousand dollars or to imprisonment for,
twelve months if he opened his mouth at
a meeting without having obtained per-
mission in advance.
If a loudspeaker had to be used to
advertised a public meeting, and if it
had to be usedatthe meeting after 11 p.m.,
not one but three separate permits would
During an election campaign, the pro-
visions concerning the use of loudspeakers
would not apply. The party organising
the meeting would not be required to have
the permission of the Commissioner of
Police. But the party would still have to
notify the Commission of the purpose, the
venue and the times of the meeting, and
of the names of all non-citi/ens due to
speak. The Commissioner could still im-
pose such conditions as he thought fit,
and could still prohibit the meeting out-
right if he suspected that the notification
was incomplete or in any way false.
Only meetings for or against parties
or candidates would be exempt from the
necessity to get police permission during
election time. Meetings for the purpose
of discussing public affairs generally
would still require police permission.
* Hecklers (persons who 'act...in a dis-
orderly manner, likely to obstruct...the
transaction of the business of the meeting')
could be thrown out by the police.
In spite of the minor exceptions made
at election time to the powers of the
police, the Minister of National Security
would retain an overriding power. He
would be able to prohibit any meeting
even-during an election campaign unless
he were himself overridden by a resolu-
tion of Parliament.
0 The sum totalof these clauses is that
the Government would ha ve the power to
prohibit or control allpolitical activity
even during an election campaign. It is
precisely during election campaigns that
parliament would be unable to annul
the minister's ban, since Parliament,
would have been. dissolved. Meetings
other than party meetings could be
banned by the police; any or all party
meetings could be banned by the police
on.the grounds of incomplete notification,
or limited in scope by the police at the
commissioner's discretion,or banned by
the Minister of National Security by means
of his overriding power. There would also
be unlimited scope for Government agents
to create disorder so as to provide pre-
texts for dispersal of meetings or prosecu-
tion of organizers.
All members of the Defence Force
would be given the powers of police of-
ficers and would be used as such for the
enforcement of the provisions of the Bill.
Any Police officer or member of the
Defence Force would be empowered to
stop and search anyone without a warrant
on the pretext that he suspected that
person of carrying firearms, or that he
had committed or was about to commit'any
other offence prejudicial to public safety
or order'. The search would not be
limited to a search for firearms: sus-
pected possession of firearms is only
one of the pretexts.
Any premises could be entered without
warrant and searched by any police of-
ficer of the rank of inspector or higher
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
* Whereas it is essential, if man is
not to be compelled to have recourse,
as a last resort, to rebellion against
tyranny and oppression, that human rights
should be protected the rule of law.....
* Everyone has the right tclife,liberty
and the Security of person. No one shall
be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention
* No one shall be subjected to arbitrary
interference with his privacy, family,
home.....Everyone has the right to pro-
tection of the law against such inter-
* Everyone has the right to freedom
of movement and residence within the
borders of each state.
* Everyone has the right to leave any
country, including his own, and to return
to his country.
* Everyone has the right to freedom
of peaceful assembly and association.
That instrument is the NATIONAL
SECURITY (PUBLIC ORDER, PUBLIC
SAFETY AND DEFENCE) BILL, 1970.
Quite simply, the effects of this
nefarious Bill would be as follows:
It would totally abrogate the Bill
of Rights embodied in our Constitution.
It would outlaw all political activity
except as permitted by the Minister of
It would extend forever the arbitrary
power over public assembly and public
processions now exercised by the Govern-
ment under the terms of the Emergency
Powers Act, 1970. These powers are now
incorporated once and for all in this
Bill, and do not depend on a proclaimed
It would extend forever the powers
of arrest and detention without warrant,
charge or trial, now exercised by the
Government. These powers would be in-
corporated directly in the Bill and made
renewable every twelve monthsby a simple
majority or even by a proclamation of the
Governor General if the twelve-month
period had expired. The powers would
not be dependent on a state of emergency.
It would extend forever the powers
now exercised by the Minister of National
Security, under the Emergency Regula-
tions, to restrict freedom of movement
of individuals. Although these powers are
subject to the twelve-month renewal
requirement in Part V of the Bill, they
are also given to the Commissioner of'
Police in Part VI. This section is sup-
posed to have effect only when an
emergency has been proclaimed, but an
exception is specifically made for these
powers, since Section 56 (1) says that
'until regulations otherwise provide, the
Commissioner of Police is hereby autho-
rised to exercise the following powers...'
The Commissioner of Police is obliged
by the Bill to take orders from the
Minister of National Security.
It would subject the citizens of this
country to arbitrary search of t h e i r
persons and homes by the police, army,
coast guard or cadet corps.
It would set the Police and the
population against each other by making
the Police the instrument of Government
These proposals are nothing short of a
BLUEPRINT FOR PAPADOCRACY -
for a brutal dictatorship according to the
classical pattern of Caribbean caudillos
like Trujillo, Duvalier, Batista, Gomez and
C- .*W .
The Tapia House, 91, Tunapuna Road, Tunapuna. .
1,- ,,' ,>,B W ^.... : *-.: --S .... -*
TAPIA is the mud-wall of the traditional the Registered Office of the Tapia House
Trinidad house. For us it has come to Publishing Company L limited.
mean "building from the earth with our act s of T A
own hands." The activities of TAPIA include
community discussions on Caribbean
The TAPIA HOUSE is the Head- Affairs, AfricanHistory & Personal Finance.
quarters of the Tapia House Group and
Next to the TAPIA HOUSE stands
a Moonlight Theatre designed for'drama
or by any police officer in charge of the a Moonlight Theatre designed for drama
nearest police station, on the pretext in the open air.
that there were firearms, ammunition
or explosives on those premises.
* On an order from the Minister of
arrested and detained without warrant, could prohibit any or all cities from
charge or bail for a period of three leaving the country and remove their
imncget or balongr if a rioundl set u passports or hold up their passport ap-
months, or longer if aTribunal set up
to review detentions stated that there plications. Again, such orders would be
was sufficient cause. If the Tribunal subject to review by the Tribunal, but
reported that there was not sufficient there is no provision that the Tribunal's
cause, the detainee would have to be decision is binding.
released. But he could be re-arrested e The Minister of National Security
immediately on different grounds, could, in fact, put people under h o u s e
Whether the Tribunal decidedinfavour arrest or restrict their movements toany
of release or of continued detention, the degree without reference to the Tribunal,
reasons for the decision would not be because these powers are also given in
given to the detainee. At the Tribunal's another of the Bill to theCo
hearings, the Minister would not be ob- missioner of Police. Although that Sec-
liged to produce any witnesses in support tion appears in Part VI, whichis supposed
of his detention order. The hearings would to come into effect only when an Emer-
not dbe public agency is proclaimed, the powers in
been released from detention by the until regulations otherwise provide.
Tribunal. The Bill states that every such 0 These provisions constitute total power
case shall be reviewed by the Tribunal, on the part of the GOvernment to violate
but it does not state that the order must any person's privacy at willand to restrict
beedefreedom to any degree and for any
be revoked if the Tribunal decides itis length of time.
I c '191
The call by the Government for comment on the Public
Order Bill is a transparent ruse. Williams is hoping that
by joining a discussion of the details of the Bill the
public will in effect be giving its consent to this tyranni-
cal piece of legislation. It is an old, old trick.
But this country is not in any mood to be duped.
Even in the discussion of the details there has been an
almost unanimous flood of opposition in the national
Where else would a government persist with legisla-
tion in the teeth of so much dissent? What but a highly
unprincipled government would put forward such a
proposal at this time? Williams and the PNM govern-
ment are in disgrace. The entire system of government
and politics is now in question. But instead of promot-
ing constitutional reform and seeking a renewal of its
mandate, the government is planning to use its parlia-
mentary majority of 1966 to remove the freedoms of
In fact, Williams feels compelled to use his majority
to establish a police.state precisely because if he held
elections today his majority would certainly disappear;
because if he permitted constitutional reform, there
would not be any room for Dr. Strongman.
The country does not want Williams and the PNM.
We saw this quite clearly in the support for Black Power
and the February Revolution. It is only the Emergency
Powers Act and the systematic intimidation by the
forces of "law and order" which have prevented more
vigorous manifestation of opposition during the last few
In spite of total public opposition, the present Par-
liament will pass the bill if the Bill is presented to it. Do
we need clearer evidence of the truth of Tapia's re-
peated claim that Parliament is not representative of any
genuine interests in this country? Must we still argue a
case for urgent constitutional reform?
If we had a House of Representatives composed of
members of political parties which had developed out of
alliances of real community interests, would the govern-
ment have felt the need to introduce such a Bill?
But even if a government did dare to try for such an
Act, it could hardly have got it through. Back-benchers
of the governing party would not be as abjectly submis-
sive to the Prime Minister's power of patronage. At
worst, they would feel freer to respond to popular
pressure and argue against the Bill. At best, they would
vote against it.
Ministers would be more secure than now. They
would have independent power bases in the local areas,
in the Unions, in the community groups, and in busi-
ness. They would have confidence in their qualifica-
tions for ministerial office. They would stand up to a
Prime Minister's tyranny; they would resign in protest.
A larger Senate, composed of the representatives of
genuine groups and interests throughout the country
and not merely made up of the Prime Minister's ap-
pointees, would inform the State fully and promptly
of the country's views. Since the Sanators could at any
time be changed by the groups which appointed them,
the debate would always represent the current opinion
of the country, not the opinion at some election time,
In the final analysis, even if the government per-
sisted in using its majority in the House of Representa-
tives to pass a bill in the teeth of Congressional opposi-
tion, a Governor-Generalappointed by the Senate might
go so far as to refuse to sign the Bill.
Or if he did sign, the Chief Justice and the Courts,
free from the Prime Minister's interference in the ap-
pointment of the Judiciary, would be able to ensure a
much more just administration of theprovisions of the
Act. For instance, the Chief Justice would appoint a
Tribunal less inclined to the Government's way of
And then, the Governor-General might recall
Parliament from recess to have it pass a resolution
negating the Minister's ban on meetings. The Snate
might at any time pass resolutions condemning acts by
the Cabinet. In fact, with its parliamentary immunity
the Senate would be able to carry out discussions which
the public itself might be prevented from carrying on.
With so much restraint on the abuse of power, no
sane government would proceed with, or even become
involved in, any tyrannical scheme such as the current
Public Order Bill. But even if it did, and somehow
managed to carry it through, the people would not
submit. They would be encouraged by the support
of these representative institutions and by the ex-
perience of wide participation to take those steps
which lie ultimately in the power of all peoples to sal-
vage their freedoms from the Labasse of official gangs
terism and get-to-hell-outa here-ism.
..,IA IAiu '10proosalsf orf Constf itutiliional R U form
COMPOSITION: Reps to come from
Trade-Unions; Youth Groups; Com-
munity Groy, Business Groups; Cul-
tural Groups; W -, District, Village
& Municipal ils; Sporting ,s-
sociation c. These reps to be
selected and paid by the community
in sts and to be withdrawn at -will.
.-^'WHY? To bring popular/opinion
onto the public stage and give "it
POWERS: Appointment of the G-G
and Auditor General;
-Appointment and administration
of the Elections and Boundaries Con -
Conduct of Commissions of
Conduct of Annual National Wage
Supervision of the State's Interest
in Radio, TV & Newspapers;
Initiation of legislation.
A HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES(Assembly)
COMPOSITION: as now withper-
haps rather more seats.
POWERS: as now subject to con-
trols vested in the Senate & Pancha-
A PANCHAYAT (Congress of Elders)
COMPOSITION: the members of
the House of Representatives and the
Senate meeting in plenary session.
WHY? To marry the opinion of the
Government with the opinion of the
To expose the government to
To inform- the State fully and
continually of the needs of the people.
POWERS: Veto over the PM's
nominations to the post of Chief
Justice, to the Public Service Com-
mission and to the Judicial and Legal
Debate of, the first reading of
all bills except the Budget.
WHY? To establish a genuine system
of Municipal, Ward, District and Vill-
To integrate the local areas into
the various levels of national planning
To diffuse power from the centre.
To recognize meaningful units of
social, cultural and economic life.
To extend the nation's pool of
To create more public account-
ability by ensuring widespread
participation in the practice of go-
To stop the wasteful movement
of people into Port-of-Spain.
POWERS: Increased responsibility
Greater administrative involve-
ment in education and sport and in
nationally-owned enterprise and
PUBLIC SERVICE REFORM
WHY? To create a
sympathetic to private initiative;
To free entrepreneurial talent
for national enterprise;
To release technical and political
personnel who can strengthen
To raise the level of discussion
To take politics favouritismm &
witchhunting) out of the career grades
of the Civil Service.
HOW? Commission of Enquiry-
into the operation of the Cabinet and
the Ministerial administration,
Revised machinery for appoint-
ments, promotion, discipline, tran-
Compulsory exposure of certain
Appointment of an Ombudsman.
Liberalisation of the Civil
Service to permit some officers to
hold other jobs and to participate in
open political activity.
Liberalisation of the T e a c h i n g
HOW? Lowering of the Voting
Age to embrace more of the youth.
Transfer of electoral ad-
ministration from the Cabinet to the
Automatic registration of all
Last minute draw for positions
on voting machines.
IMMEDIATE SUMMONING OF
A CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
WHY? To discuss and decide on
the above constitutional proposals and
any others that may be suggested.
To recognize the large unofficial
To define and delimit the political
and economic interests existing in
To hold a comprehensive national
To establish an independent
system of politics and government.
HOW? Read TAPIA.