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Griffith stresses need for Bail Bill

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

National Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday stressed the need for the Bail Bill, saying if a person is caught for exporting $640 million in cocaine he can be released on bail.

Speaking on the Bail (Amendment) Bill, 2013 at the Senate sitting, Griffith appealed to senators to note the oath they took when entering office—to bear true faith and allegiance to Trinidad and Tobago and lend their support to the bill.

He said the argument was put forward about the perception of a person’s constitutional rights being infringed through this legis­lation. However, he said if someone is arrested tomorrow for being in possession of $640 million in cocaine, the current law gives that person a constitutional right to bail.

“What we are setting ourselves up for is a blood bath,” said Griffith, adding that when such a person is allowed bail and returns to freedom, there is continued damage to the youth of the country and for the gun and drug trade to continue. He said without the bill, the criminal goes free on bail and can also launch an attack on the very police officers or “put a hit” on individuals who assisted in his arrest.

The bill, said Griffith, will aid in dismantling gangs in this country.

He noted that last year, 247 murders out of 405 were related to gun and drug activities.

Griffith said legislation will ensure there is that protection for people wanting to pull away from a life of crime.

He said the Anti-Gang Act does not have any provisions with respect to the denial of bail and therefore the Bail Amendment Bill was needed in the crime fight, as preventing someone from leaving a gang, recruiting gang members and possession of an illegal firearm would be non-bailable offences. The Bail Bill, he added, will boost citizens’ confidence and encourage them to provide information to the police.

Griffith said there has been a decline in the detection rate over the years and this was because of the lack of human intelligence and the need for proper crime scene investigations.

The bill, he said, will give the people of this country an opportunity to exhale and have confidence in law enforcement.

He said further that people who are victims of rape and sexual offences will also have the will to come forward and ensure the perpetrator is jailed. As it stands now, he said, a person who rapes someone can be granted bail and then go back into the communities and confront their victims.

Griffith added that a person can be held with a M16 weapon, which can kill more than 30 people at one time, and be allowed to “get out of jail” with bail.

The minister urged senators to stop thinking about the rights of the criminals and start thinking about the 1.3 million law-abiding citi­zens in this country who need the protection offered under the Bail Amendment Bill.

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