Moonilal: National Security Council cannot review police operations

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal. –

UNC deputy political leader Dr Roodal Moonilal said the National Security Council (NSC) has no authority to conduct a review of certain operations of the police after a shooting incident at Courts Megastore in San Juan on Sunday.

Two people were killed in that incident.

A statement issued by the National Security Ministry on Tuesday said in the wake of the incident, the NSC will “initiate the conduct of an immediate review of the relevant laws, regulations, and practices, surrounding certain aspects of the operations of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS).”

The NSC, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, took the decision after an extra-ordinary meeting on Tuesday.

Apart from wanting a full, fair and swift investigation into the shooting, the ministry said the NSC took the decision to initiate the review. Two people were killed in that incident.

The council receive the assurance from Commissioner of Police (CoP) Erla Harewood-Christopher of the police’s full cooperation with respect to the review.

Harewood-Christopher attended the NSC meeting.

In a statement on Wednesday, Moonilal said the NSC did not have the authority to order the CoP to conduct any investigation.

He added that Dr Rowley “is out of place to instruct the CoP Erla Harewood-Christopher to investigate the circumstances surrounding the recent murders on the compound of Courts Megastore.”

The NSC, Moonilal continued. is a sub-committee of the Cabinet with the responsibility of formulating or modifying relevant policies.

“The council has no rights or responsibilities with respect to law-enforcement operational matters. Such authority lies exclusively with the CoP.”

Moonilal, who is also Oropouche East MP and the UNC’s shadow national security minister, claimed the review “is another shadowy illustration of the brazen subversion and politicisation of independent institutions and agencies.”

He said, “The government is continuing to undermine autonomous bodies, as was recently seen with the removal of a prominent and well-regarded public official.”

Moonilal reiterated the UNC’s position that the PNM has presided over a crime crisis over the last eight years

“An effective and competent government would have focused on improving security and protecting people.”

Moonilal said the Government “continues to dodge the dreadful crime crisis, in which there are increasing numbers of murders, home invasions, assaults and other major violent offences.”

On Tuesday, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds was asked which laws would be reviewed.

Hinds said, “Relevant laws. Concerning police! Relevant means all laws touching and concerning! Or applicable laws.”

The Police Service Act is the main law that governs the operations of the police.

This issue comes months after Rowley spoke about the establishment of vetting units in the police service to weed out rogue police officers.

He did so at a PNM meeting in San Fernando on July 15 and again after an NSC meeting at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, one day later.

Deosaran, attorney Martin George and Police Service Social and Welfare Association president ASP Gideon Dickson questioned the rationale behind that proposal.

To date, that proposal has not been implemented.