Wednesday, January 24, 2018

AG: Bandits, beware!

“Bandits, beware!”

Following the passage of the Bail Amendment Bill (2013) yesterday in the Senate, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan warned all bandits and criminal elements in the country that they should think again before committing crimes against innocents as jail is certain without bail.

Government received majority support from the Independent benches for the passage of the bill, with seven out of nine Independent senators voting in favour.

Independent Senators Helen Drayton and Elton Prescott SC voted against the bill, along with the six People’s National Movement (PNM) senators.

The final result was 22 members vo­ting for the bill and eight members vo­ting against.

The bail bill was passed in the House of Representatives on January 11 with the Government’s majority in the House. The Opposition also voted against it then.

Speaking to the Express by phone yesterday, Ramlogan thanked the Independent senators for their support as the Senate deliberated on the bill for close to four hours, making several amendments.

“This puts an important legislative tool in the toolkit of the police officers. It equips them with a weapon in the fight against crime which, if properly used, can be a major game-changer,” said Ramlogan.

He explained persons convicted of dangerous and violent criminal offences will be sent to jail if they reoffend and they will be denied bail for 120 days in the first instance, and if the case starts, there will be no bail at least until an entire year passes.

The AG said there is no bail whatsoever in the case where the person has two convictions or two strikes and reoffends on a third count.

“Bandits, beware, the arm of the law has been lengthened and strengthened, and the scales of justice have been tilted against you and are now firmly in favour of the innocent, law-abiding citizens whom they wish to terrorise,” said Ramlogan.

Following the passage of the bail bill, Independent Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan moved a mo­tion on the adjournment of the Upper House where he raised concern over the inordinate delay in the appointment of a Commissioner of Police (CoP).

He said while he was pleased the Bail Amendment Bill was passed, he had “deep concern” over the continued acting appointments of a CoP.

Ramkhelawan said the country cannot be held to ransom and have a police service of 7,000 officers leaderless.

He noted since the resignation of former CoP Dwayne Gibbs, there were four acting extensions for Stephen Williams.

He questioned how could Williams feel comfortable in leading a force and implementing policy and programmes when he is unsure of his tenure.

Ramkhelawan outlined the long process in the appointment of a CoP.

“It is a more complicated process than the selection of a pope; it is a more complicated process then the selection of a president,” he said.

He said there is need for action and while there is “enough legislation”, there was need for permanent and stable leadership of the police force.

In his response, National Security Minister Gary Griffith admitted the process to select a CoP was cumbersome and long.

However, he stressed the acting CoP has full authority and power to lead the police force as a permanent appointee would.

Griffith said parliamentarians need to stop playing the blame game and work together to change the process.

Speaking after Griffith, PNM Opposition Senator Camille Robinson-Regis said the PNM was committed to working with the Government to change the cumbersome process in the appointment of a CoP.

• See Page 4