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Drayton on Anti-Crime Bill: Don’t put me under duress

Published: 
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Independent Senator Helen Drayton, left, speaks to her colleague Dr Rolph Balgobin during Tuesday’s sitting of the Upper House, at Tower D, International Waterfront, Port-of-Spain. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ

Independent Senator Helen Drayton says she will not allow herself to be put in a position where she has to make critical decisions under duress. She made the statement during her contribution to the Miscellaneous Provisions (Proceeds of Crime Anti-Terrorism, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of T&T) Bill.

National Security Minister Gary Griffith said yesterday that the provisions of bill needed to be in force by January 2015 in order for T&T to be compliant with an international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering. Drayton said: “I do not want to be put in a situation where I am told that if we don’t approve this legislation then we will be blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force.

“I will not allow myself to be put in a position where I am making critical decisions under duress and I want to mention that the last time the bill came around, that was said and I had issues of principle, I voted against it.” She also criticised what she described as Government’s practice of bringing substantial amendments to three and four pieces of legislation in one bill.

“I understand the relationships between the pieces of legislation—the FIU, Anti-Terrorism and the Proceeds of Crime Act—and while it may appear to be efficient, it is not in the best interest of making laws. “By all means, put the amendments in their separate bills and bring the bills to be debated in one sitting, that is okay. 

“The reason why I don’t like it, is that if for any reason after the committee stage, because I only make a decision on bills at the committee stage, after hearing the arguments and taking that into consideration with whatever research I have done,” she added. She said if she felt comfortable in supporting two of the bills, she could not because what government was doing was forcing her to either approve all or reject all.