Friday, January 19, 2018

House passes bill to end preliminary probes

Legislation to abolish preliminary enquiries was passed yesterday in the Parliament with no support from the Opposition.
The Indictable Offences (Pre-Trial Procedure) Bill, 2017 was passed around 6.30 p.m. after 19 Government members voted in favour.
Sixteen members on the Opposition bench voted against. The bill required a simple majority for passage.
Tabaquite MP Suruj Rambachan said in his contribution to the debate that the Opposition was in favour of abolishing the preliminary enquiries but against removing powers from the magistracy and placing it into the hands of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
“Our objection has to do with the powers that are being given to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Nowhere in the world where preliminary enquires have been dealt with...have the powers of a magistrate been taken away and given to the DPP.
“We are treading dangerous ground when we attempt to put so much power into the hands of one individual,” he said.
The Opposition, he said, must be committed to ensuring that “we do not create a regrettable problem”.

‘Too much powers for DPP’

Rambachan said he is not a lawyer but he understands the implications of the bill and the powers to be given to the DPP.
He said the Parliament must jealously guard any kind of legislation that puts that kind of power into the hands of people which can be manipulated.
He said the people in the country are not convinced the legislation would curb crime.
Rambachan said when he was leaving to attend Parliament, a woman asked him at his office what was being debated and when he replied, she said: “You think all of that is going to help us feel safer in our homes? You think all of that is going to stop raping my Down syndrome daughter?”
He noted Government MP Glenda Jennings-Smith said people are fed up and want swift justice.
He questioned what she has done with her 34 years of experience from the Police Service to help put a dent in crime.
“The reality is that this country is under siege. Madame Speaker, when criminals can post on the YouTube as they posted in Central Trinidad over the last five days, saying who they are going to shoot and how much guns they have and when they can do so and laugh it away and you have to live in Central Trinidad...and the police would not even call them in for questioning, Madame Speaker, then something has to be terribly wrong with our Police Service and the Ministry of National Security,” he said.
“We cannot have an Acting Commissioner of Police trying to placate us over and over as he’s doing but there is no action that is brining any kind of satisfaction to the country,” he added.