“The Opposition did support the Bail Bill in Parliament.”
Leader of the United National Congress (UNC) Kamla Persad-Bissessar last night called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to be truthful with the public on that issue.
Persad-Bissessar’s rebuff comes after Rowley said that the Opposition’s failure to agree to the Bail Bill is the reason for the high crime rate in certain communities.
Speaking at the UNC’s virtual meeting last night, Persad-Bissessar sought to clarify that statement.
She said that the Opposition refused to support the provision that denied bail for 120 days to first-time offenders.
“We said that we do not agree with this one provision, if you amend it, we will agree and we will pass it with a special majority. They did not bother with us,” she said.
“I wrote to the Prime Minister and I said we are prepared to support this, we are prepared to waive the Standing Orders and say bring it back within the same session,” Persad-Bissessar said.
According to Parliamentary rules, a failed bill cannot be reintroduced on the same day, but Persad-Bissessar said in her letter to Rowley, she said that the Opposition would waive that rule if the amended bill was reintroduced.
“(I said) bring it back with the amendment and we will agree to it and we did that. We passed it,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said that the requested amendment was that if you committed certain offences, you could not get bail for 120 days.
She said if a person was charged with a firearm offence they can be denied bail for 120 days.
“That is the same law we passed in 2014,” she said.
If a person is charged with a firearm offence and has a pending matter or previous conviction, the person will be denied bail.
“That is what we had in 2014. We agreed,” she said.
“Don’t lie to the population and use this bail bill blame game story,” Persad-Bissessar said to Rowley.
She said that the Government thought that the Bail Bill was the answer to every crime story in the country.
“Listen, you cannot lock up everyone in the country. You have to have a holistic view in the fight against crime.
She said that deterrents, preventions and after treatments made more sense,” she said.
“Every story that come out with crime is because Kamla did not support and the Opposition did not support the Bail Amendment Bill. You hear lie?” she asked.
Persad-Bissessar also commented on Rowley’s announcement of a committee to deal with the communities. She said while she respected the people on the committee, she believed Rowley was “too late”.