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Camille, AG clash over testing kits
Temporary Opposition Senator and former legal affairs minister, Camille Robinson-Regis, got into a verbal exchange with Attorney General Anand Ramlogan early in her contribution to yesterday’s Senate debate on the DNA Bill. She spoke after Transport Minister Devant Maharaj, who spoke about an arrangement he had with a US company when he did DNA testing several years ago. Maharaj was not a minister at the time. Commenting on that arrangement, Robinson-Regis said after Maharaj spoke about the arrangement she wondered if the US company would have been contracted by the PP Government to provide the DNA testing kits to T&T. This forced Ramlogan to shout from his opposite seat: “At least he wouldn’t be using his credit card to pay for it.”
That was a reference to an incident involving the over-spending of funds on Robinson-Regis credit card while she was a minister in the People’s National Movement Government a few years ago. The funds used were paid back by the former minister. She responded to Ramlogan: “Perhaps he would not use his credit card to pay for it and we hope he doesn’t. “And we also hope that he would not burn down his own office. And perhaps we need to take DNA samples in that matter.” She said the existing DNA legislation could work despite claims to the contrary by Government officials. Robinson-Regis, in her contribution, said at least one rape case was determined with the use of DNA samples.
“Evidence shows that the existing legislation can work,” she added. Robinson-Regis said amendments to the anti-gang legislation were required but the Government had not as yet seen it fit to bring it back to Parliament for that purpose. She said that legislation was more critical than the DNA Bill in the fight against crime. Robinson-Regis was concerned over a provision to retain DNA profiles indefinitely. She was supported by Opposition Senator Pennelope Beckles, who indicated that only from serious and sexual cases profiles should be retained for a long period. Earlier, Opposition Senator Lester Henry said the DNA Bill would not establish a panacea for crime-fighting in T&T.
He said it would lead to another fiasco as there would be significant implememtation issues. Maharaj, in his contribution, said DNA was more helpful than hurtful. He said the country should not be robbed of its usage and that a crime would be committed on the population if DNA legislation was not approved to help in the fight against crime. He insisted the Government had no intentions of invading the privacy of citizens under the legislation. Meanwhile, Government was uncertain yesterday of the required support for passage of the bill in the Senate. That, as some 34 major amendments were drafted to the legislation.
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