N Touch
Friday 17 August 2018
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All eyes on safety

THE REPORT of the foiling of a plot to disrupt the peace during our Carnival celebrations is a deeply serious matter which requires the gravest of responses.

It is for law enforcement and national security officials to assess the scope and nature of the threat that was posed and to determine what action is appropriate going forward. The State should not shy away from doing what it must to guard the welfare of all of us. It is free to deploy all the strategies at its disposal, ranging from the execution of special operations to more extreme measures such as the calling of a state of emergency.

The latest developments underline the need for the passing of effective anti-terrorism legislation which implements our international commitments and which also ensures the preservation of public safety.

A better job must be done on the legislative front. For too long, Parliament has dragged its feet while reports of Trinidad and Tobago nationals playing a part in terror cells in Syria and elsewhere have become increasingly prominent, including in a recent, highly circulated report in the UK Guardian.

Failure to take effective steps to demonstrate we are tackling this issue will have adverse repercussions.

A better job must also be done when it comes to communicating with the public. The right signal was not sent on Thursday at the emergency press conference. While details were scarce, the nature of the announcement required specific guidelines as well as a demonstration of strength and confidence, matters which are not easily handled when relatively junior officers take charge.

Missing from the equation are the implications for the man in the street who is currently preparing for two days of Carnival revelry. While US and UK authorities have issued cautions to their nationals, the Police Service has not done the same. It may well be the case that the National Security Council will have to intervene using the range of modern communications tools available, inclusive of ODPM infrastructure. In the meanwhile, all citizens must be vigilant. Suspicious activity should be reported to the police. While citizens must not be made to cower in fear in their homes gratuitously, it is important for all to become aware of any risks if they arise and then assess the degree of caution required.

But the sad fact remains that the world has become a very dangerous place. Gone, it seems, are the days when one could fete with abandon during Carnival without having to worry about crime and, now, the potential for terror.

While we must laud the quick and effective action of the authorities, we must also wake up to the fact that our reality has forever changed.


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