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posted 9 Dec 2013, 09:44 by Gerry Kangalee
Michael Annisette, General Secretary of the National Trade Union Centre, issued the following statement, dated December 3rd 2013:

The National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) wishes to express its grave concern about the developing tendency of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and those in authority to deny innocent law abiding citizens the right to peaceful protest and demonstration.

NATUC is of the opinion that these rights are embedded in the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, which guarantee citizens the right to freedom of association and assembly. In addition to which the historical development of Trinidad and Tobago, based on a liberal democratic foundation, ensures the continuing precedent through custom and tradition, the right to peaceful protest as an integral part of our democracy.

NATUC is therefore calling upon the Commissioner of Police to disseminate to all police officers as a matter of urgency, the difference between a peaceful protest and the concept of a public march and/or meeting as is defined within the Summary Offences Act.

NATUC wishes to emphasise that citizens do not need permission to engage in peaceful protest and as long as the public pathway is not blocked or members of the public encouraged to ill will, violence or unruly behaviour, the denial of such right is tantamount to a violation of the fundamental right to liberty and the right to freedom of expression as is established by International law.

NATUC is therefore calling on those in authority to continue to uphold in the most stringent way the democratic principles that guide us as a nation and which allows citizens the right to enjoy the freedoms we hold so dear.