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AG: Amendments to Bail Bill to be discussed

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin

THE AMENDMENTS to the Bail Amendment Bill are expected to be debated in Parliament on Friday.
“The Bail Amendment Bill is before the House or Representatives. We will debate the amendments approved by the Senate on Friday next and that bill hopefully will be passed ... When it becomes law it will bite into the neck and back of the criminal element that is terrorizing our society,” Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday.
The Attorney General explained that criminals will have one strike and no bail for 120 days for the first instance and if the State starts to prosecute within 120 days, they will remain behind bars for up to a year within which time the case should finish. If it is not then, at the end of a year, they can apply for bail.
“If you have two strikes that’s two convictions for serious, violent, dangerous crimes, then you will get no bail until your trial,” he said.
Ramlogan was speaking to reporters during a family day at Palmiste Park, San Fernando.
The launch was done with Youths on a Mission in collaboration with the youth arm of the United National Congress (UNC).
Commenting on the judiciary’s response to statements made in Senate last week during debate on the Bail Amendment Bill where Ramlogan and two Independent senators cited the “fear factor” as the probable reason for judges and magistrates granting bail to seasoned criminals and offenders, Ramlogan yesterday said that he was “simply echoing the comments” expressed in the parliament when the People’s National Movement (PNM) amended the Bail Bill back in August 1994.
He said PNM member Hedwige Bereaux had then said, “... we also have a situation because judges and magistrates are not immune to terror ... I believe that some judicial officers because of fear of reprisals from the criminals exercise discretion in favour.”
The Attorney General outlined several bills that will be bought to Parliament including the “new, simplified and more efficient modern version of the abolition of Preliminary Enquires Bill” and a miscellaneous bill to deal with matters pertaining to jury and witness tampering. He also spoke of several initiatives undertaken by the Ministry of National Security to improve the crime detection rate.
He sought to clarify a newspaper article which said that he had given Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams a failing grade.
“I did not in-fact give him a failing grade that was an interpretation that was put there but was not in fact a quote ... On issue of serious crime I am satisfied with the performance of the Commissioner of Police. On the area of high homicide rate, I think there is room for improvement,” he said.
On the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar saying that a declaration was drafted to tackle the illegal drug trade in this region, during the recently concluded Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) meeting in Cuba, Ramlogan said it will be premature to comment on the laws and after the Prime Minster
briefs the Cabinet as to what transpired at the summit, a more informed comment can be made.
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