Dropping the “net” on criminals by restricting bail access.
That’s what Government hopes to achieve with tomorrow’s debate on the Bail (Amendment) bill for which Parliament has been recalled following the recent crime crisis.
“Passage of this bill is crucial at this point as the Police Commissioner approached Government in the week of July 15 saying now is the time to have the bill passed urgently as part of the strategy of destroying the recent upsurge in criminal activity,”
A glimmer of hope emerged last night after the Opposition caucused on the bill.
UNC Deputy Leader David Lee, confirming there are issues the Opposition wants to thrash out on certain clauses in the debate. He added, “But the door’s not closed on the bill—it’s never closed with this Opposition.”
Parliament which had been on recess from early July was put on notice last week—in the height of the crime crisis—for debate on the Bail bill tomorrow.
Several MPs who were overseas returned and the Opposition will have about 12 members present.
But that may not include Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar who is overseas on vacation.
The seven clause bill debars bail for 120 days for people who have charges or convictions on serious crimes ranging from rape to gang issues.
A new clause allows culprits to approach the court for bail in “exceptional circumstances.” Al Rawi said the accused will have to prove they should be given bail.
The bill requires Opposition support for passage. It was passed in the Senate on June 12 with Government and Independent support.
But the Opposition did not support it.
Al Rawi said the bill worked well under the UNC’s tenure—when it debarred bail for 60 days—and under the PNM’s term when the Special Anti Crime unit (SAUTT) was in force.