Thursday, August 22, 2013

Don't Cover Your Face In Public: You will be Breaking the Law.

Yesterday trade union leader Ancel Roget was detained by Deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson. According to Richardson, Roget was in breech of the Public Holidays and Festivals Act, Chapter 19:02 of 1872. This Act states that  (5.5) Any person who appears in public masked or otherwise disguised except during a public festival at which he is authorized to do so by Regulations under subsection (2) is liable to a fine of one thousand dollars and to imprisonment for six months.

Ancel Roget led his group yesterday in protest for the second time in the same manner as the previous year against the declaration of the limited State of Emergency. What is notably obvious is that there were no moves to arrest in the first year, and although a law has been broken, (not by 1 or 2 by a group) no charges have been laid and Ancel Roget is today a free man. 

Tobago daily is concern of the reach of this particular Law. Does this law apply to persons of the Muslims Faith wearing Hijabs? I am certain on a daily basis one may encounter Muslim women dressed in long clothing, veiling themselves (in some cases every part except for their eyes) as a symbol of modesty, privacy and morality. This by all means constitutes a contradiction of the Act, yet, there have not been any arrest, or charges brought against those persons who engages in those practice. Clearly, unless there is a provision within this Act or any other Act that exempts them (such as cases in Divorce and Marriage) then they are also breaking the law. The Police service must shun the appearance of convenient policing. They must not enforce the Law on a part time basis, but rather on a regular basis across the board. 

A law that is almost a century and half years old must clearly need some revisiting. In 2011 there was a call by Prof Deosaran to update  'archaic, unrealistic' laws, and by all means Laws must fit into the realities of the day. As such, Tobagodaily calls on the relevant authorities to repeal those laws that has been hover over us from years in memorial, with little or no relevance other than repressive control and suppression of free speech and movement.  

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