Opposition leader Kamal Persad-Bissessar yesterday blasted the Government for needing another three months of the State of Emergency (SoE) to keep the COVID-19 numbers down and keep the vaccination drive going.
“You already had three months, so you’re now going into six months you’re asking to keep this SoE in effect,” she said during her contribution to the motion to extend the State of Emergency.
She said the Government speakers were saying to give it a chance and see what would happen.
“But we had three months to see,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley admitted that there was a spike in COVID-19 numbers in May and said that the National Security Minister had labelled the Opposition as “reckless.”
“But what was more reckless than at Easter time saying come to Tobago?” she asked.
Persad-Bissessar was referring to the pre-Easter invitation from Rowley to citizens to visit Tobago for the long Easter weekend.
She said the question to extend was now a constitutional one.
“It is very clear that the Emergency Power of Regulations is in violation of entrenched rights, of fundamental rights,” she said.
Those rights she listed as freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and freedom of association.
“What we have done is we have curtailed these rights,” she said, adding that she disagreed with the Port-of-Spain South MP Keith Scotland, who spoke before her.
“So the question then arises, is the State of Emergency, is the trampling or curtailing of rights, can it be shown to be reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation?” she asked.
She said after listening to the Government members, none had provided the proper data or science to say that the SoE cut down COVID-19.
“In May when you came to impose the State of Emergency, the numbers were far less than what we have now and during the State of Emergency,” she said.
“It is difficult to show that correlation that the SoE is the weapon, is the tool, is the medication for COVID. The data is not telling us that and not one speaker on that side was able to share new data or new information so I could say well yes, we really need this SoE.” Persad-Bissessar said the Government was referring to the SoE she called back in 2011 and said the reason and the evidence were on record.
“Let’s not go back 11 years, maybe that’s the reason you are there and I am on this side,” she said.
She defended her SoE, saying that it was reasonably justified but with this SoE, in three months there was no shifting in the results or improvements in deaths.
“Therefore, I cannot see the justification for extending it for a further three months,” she said.