UNC opens door on bail bill

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.

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