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Govt, Opposition with one voice on bail bill
In a rare show of compromise and collaboration, stringent legislation that will be coming hard at criminal gangs was passed without opposition in the House of Representatives yesterday. All MPs in the Lower House, both Government and Opposition sides voted in favour of the Bill which was approved. Attorney General Anand Ramlogan was moved to describe the spirit of collaboration as “superb” and to say that he had a “very enlightening and rewarding experience” when the Bill was being debated by a Joint Select Committee (JSC). Diego Martin Central MP Colm Imbert, in an unusual show, described the legislation as “good”. Without his usual picong, Imbert, making his contribution to the debate, said the work done by the Government and the Opposition has resulted in “good legislation.”
“I hope this will be the way forward when we are dealing with matters of national importance,” he said.
Noting that Members of Government at the JSC took the views of the Opposition into consideration, Imbert joked that Ramlogan, chairman of the committee meeting, destroyed their Mondays for eight weeks in a row, without bail or pay and with just bread and water. Ramlogan, in reply, said it was a sight to behold how an MP behaves on the outside when he takes off the hat he wears in Parliament. He said PNM Senator Fitzgerald Hinds, a member of the JSC, brought to bear at the meeting his experience of being an MP in a crime hotspot (Laventille). Ramlogan said the anti-gang bill was an important piece of legislation. “The country is crying out for us to do something about the crime situation. People feel they are under attack.
“This is strong legislation. Desperate times call for desperate measures.” Ramlogan, sending a warning to “rude boys and gangs”, said they can be jailed for six days without bail if they are arrested. He said the police can detain them for three days and then get authorisation from the court to hold them for another three days. He said, through the anti-gang legislation, Parliament has now empowered the police to target people involved in gang-related activity. The Government is also coming hard at repeat offenders with the bail amendment bill. A person who is charged for a third time will not get bail, Ramlogan said. He said new laws, previously unknown, have been created in the new legislation. Imbert had one main problem with the bill, the definition of harbouring someone involved in gang activity. He said this can pose a problem for parents. The AG promised to look review the clause.
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