THE argument that soldiers are trained killers, which was used to oppose the Defence (Amendment) Bill 2013, is the very argument that should be used to support it, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday.
Earlier this year the Government brought a proposed amendment to the bill that aimed to give soldiers powers of arrest.
Ramlogan said he believed the current crime situation in East Port of Spain showed that the police were “out-gunned and out-manned” and needed support from soldiers to help arrest the crime problem in specific areas.
He made the statement as he addressed reporters following a meeting between members of the Government and the Opposition to deal with the country’s crime scourge.
The meeting was held at the Parliament Building, Tower D of the International Waterfront, Wrightson Road in Port of Spain.
Ramlogan said he was not “satisfied” by efforts being made by the police to arrest crime in the East Port of Spain area.
“I am not at all satisfied with the police efforts in clamping down on the murder rate and the gang violence in East Port of Spain. I know that they are trying their utmost best and I know that there are some very good officers who risk life, limb and property for the security and safety of all citizens in this country and I commend them highly but I think the fact that the Commissioner himself has launched an investigation into potential leaks from the Police Service into the criminal elements into our society is of great concern,” Ramlogan said.
Ramlogan said he believes the Defence Force personnel must play a larger role in the fight against crime.
Ramlogan said he is “hopeful” his wish will come true and intends to bring an amendment to the bill.
“Maybe we would want to consider if it is the soldiers should not have absolute police powers of arrest when accompanying police officers, perhaps we can limit it to when soldiers are accompanying police officers to investigate and respond to certain types of crimes and certain types of situations so, for example, when you have open gang warfare and you know that the police need the back-up of the soldiers, in a situation like that, perhaps by legislation we can give the soldiers the additional power, privileges and immunities that they require to respond with equal force and measure to such a situation because you cannot expect them to go in there if we do not give them the necessary legal armour and body cover that they would need,” he said.
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