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Cops: No stopping curfew parties

By Jensen LaVende jensen.lavende@trinidadexpress.com

CLUB OWNERS, bar owners and anyone thinking of having a curfew party can breathe a sigh of relief now after Public Information Officer of the Police Service ASP Joanne Archie has said that the police are not clamping down on curfew parties.

During the police service daily press briefing yesterday, Archie sought to clear the air on an article published by the Express which stated that the police were shutting down curfew parties.

Archie advised of "the danger of having a large crowd literally locked inside a building and the dangers that could occur in the event of some untoward situation". She added that at no point did the TTPS have intentions of stopping any curfew parties and in addition there has been no attempt by the TTPS to restrict the constitutional rights of citizens.

A story in last Friday's Express, under the headline "Stop the Dance", quoted Archie as saying: "The emergency regulations speak about outdoors and we will go with what is said there in that regulation. We will want to advise bar owners and persons who hold these pubs to desist. As you rightly said, in the case of an emergency and (should) something happen, to get access maybe to some emergency assistance, you will be venturing onto the street and thereby will be breaching the curfew and will be subject to arrest...you alluded to the fact that bar owners are having people assemble indoors in crowds, in large groups, so we will want them to desist from that practice within the curfew hours."

During yesterday's press briefing, Archie told members of the media: "While on the topic of the SoE, last Thursday the Express led with the story that the TTPS is clamping down on owners of clubs, bars and people holding curfew parties...The caution we gave to the public last week was for their safety and security. We did not at any time indicate our intention to stop club or bar owners from holding events in their premises. Our concern as police officers was and continues to be the safety of Trinidad and Tobago. For anyone, media or otherwise, to imply as such is preposterous and ridiculous to say the least. How can you report that a person in their private residence or any building during curfew hours runs out of the building in an emergency will be subjected to arrest if they attempt to seek medical attention?"

The clarification by Archie comes on the heels of a column written by president of the Law Association, Dana Seetahal SC, in Saturday's Express. Seetahal questioned what power members of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) had to stop curfew parties. ASP Archie did not seek to make any clarification to her own comments on the day that the Express published Seetahal's column.

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