Monday, February 19, 2018

DNA testing for all

Govt taking tough stance...

Government makes no apologies whatsoever for taking the position that all deportees, all law enforcement officers and all private security officers must be subjected to mandatory DNA testing. 

So said Attorney General Anand Ramlogan as he piloted the Administration of Justice Bill in the Senate yesterday. 

The Attorney General said one of the identifiable factors in the spike in crime had been deportees. 

“Deportees have contributed in no small measure to the gang-related violence. They have brought with them not only a different culture but an uplift in the criminal enterprise which they learnt from those countries from which they were deported,” he said. 

He added that all deportees, whether they have been found guilty of a criminal offence or not, would be fingerprinted and would have to give a DNA sample. The Attorney General said sometimes the foreign countries have suspicions but not evidence about a person and they lead them in the direction to being deported.

In terms of mandatory testing for law enforcement officers, Ramlogan noted this had generated some concerns but, he said, those involved in enforcing the law must also be subject to the law. “Police officers, coastguardsmen, soldiers, everyone involved in the administration and implementation of the law must give a DNA sample and a fingerprint. He said private security officers would also have to give DNA. 

Quoting a news report about a police officer charged with human trafficking, Ramlogan said: “We all know, the brothels and the drug blocks, if they sometimes do not have the protection of those who are there to enforce the law, they cannot flourish and prosper in the manner that they do. That is why allowing them to give their fingerprint evidence and submit a  DNA sample will help in the fight against crime because if you are part of the problem, you cannot be part of the solution”. 

Citing the case of a young engineer shot to death in Palo Seco as he tried to prevent the kidnapping of his sister, Ramlogan said the ballistic evidence showed the bullet and the gun came from a police station in Arima. “You know what the theory is? Police renting out the gun to the gang that went to do the kidnapping. And that is hard, cold chilling facts from real examples. So we make no apologies as  a Government for taking a very strong stance. If you want to be an enforcer of the law...give yuh fingerprint, submit your sample and let us get on with it,” he said.

He said steps had already been taken up upgrade the Forensic Science Centre, with increases in professional staff. Government was partnering with the UK and US to get technical assistance, he added. 

He said he had no shame in admitting that the society was playing catch up.

He said the Parliament could not take a blind eye to what was taking place on the ground. He cited the case of the three teenagers who hired a taxi driver and threw him over a precipice. 

“It is time to stop cursing the dark and light a candle,” he said. He said the legislation properly used was bound to revolutionise the criminal justice system.  


AG Ramlogan said the bill might have a multiplier effect, allowing police officers to solve cold cases dating back to 20 years, which  was why the bill required DNA samples to be kept for 20 years. 

The bill also imposes a fine of $100,000 and 20 years jail for anyone who attempts to bribe, intimidate, threaten or injure a judicial officer only because of his/her role in the justice system or any victim of a crime.  

The bill also amends the Jury Act.