Government is banking on the support of the Independent Senators to pass the Bail (Amendment) Bill 2013, which will ensure that repeat offenders are jailed with no bail says Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
The Prime Minister added that while the Child Protection Task Force recommended that legislation pertaining to the protection of children not yet be proclaimed until recommended measures are put into place, the clauses with respect to offences against children should be brought forward so the perpetrators can be caught under the move for no bail.
The bill, which was introduced by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, SC, on November 13, 2013, was finally passed in the House of Representatives last Saturday after a lengthy sitting.
The bill, which required a special majority in order to be passed, received the full support of all 27 Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Government benches. It needed 26 votes to pass.
The Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) voted against it, while interim political leader of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) Jack Warner abstained.
Speaking at the Post Cabinet news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, Persad-Bissessar said that under this legislation, once an offender gets two strikes, there is no bail.
She explained that if a person is charged and he/she has a prior conviction in the past 10 years then bail can be denied up to 120 days.
“A repeat offender is in effect going to be locked up should they recommit an offense,” she said.
She said the offences against children should be brought forward so these perpetrators can also be caught under the no bail law.
Persad-Bissessar noted that the Opposition had made it clear they will not lend their support.
“We look forward to the support of the independent senators in the Senate so we can get the repeat offenders behind bars on their second count,” she said.
Chairman of the Child Protection Task Force Diana Mahabir Wyatt and her team presented a copy of their report to the Prime Minister yesterday.
Persad-Bissessar said this was a “symbolic” presentation as the task force had sent the report to her office last year before Christmas.
The recommendations of the report, she said, were accepted by Cabinet.
She said the three of the major areas of priority in the report were the establishment of assessment centres, the staffing of the Children’s Authority and the licensing of community residences.
Persad-Bissessar said steps have already been taken to address all these areas and the recommendations made by the Task force will be fulfilled.