Kamla tells Government – Opposition will support Anti-Gang Bill with two and a half year sunset clause
Leader of the Opposition and UNC Political Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP is calling on Government to accept the Opposition’s revised proposal of a sunset clause of two and a half years for the Anti-Gang Bill.
Speaking at the UNC’s Monday Night Forum in Barataria/San Juan on Monday 26th February, 2018, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar noted that the Government continues to play politics with crime, and is pushing for this legislation as they see it as a panacea to deal with this most pressing issue.
She told supporters gathered at the Don Miguel Hindu School, San Juan, that the Government refused to consider the Opposition’s proposal of two years, and this remains a sticking point.
“We have been saying that it is important to come back to the Parliament after two years so that the Parliament can scrutinize what has happened under the legislation,” she said. “If it worked, renew it; if it didn’t, then don’t renew.”
She continued, “There must be a check and balance on the very draconian powers that are conferred by the agencies of law enforcement. While we expect law enforcement will do their best, we must also guard against any possible abuses of power.”
“Why are they so deadset against scrutiny and accountability?” Mrs. Persad-Bissessar asked.
“The PNM has made it their answer to every crisis that they have inflicted on this country that it is the UNC to blame. We agree to support the legislation that they say law enforcement is begging for, but yet they reject our offer and they blame the UNC,” the UNC Leader said.
She noted that it was the team from the Opposition that provided advice to the Government to address deficiencies in the draft amended Bill.
“We sought to cure fundamental flaws in the legislation which would have provided avenues for persons prosecuted to defeat valid prosecutions,” she noted.
“If the passage of the Anti-Gang legislation is the government’s cure for the crime scourge that plagues each and every citizen of our nation, then they should have accepted the Opposition’s offer of a two-year sunset clause and proceed to the Parliament as soon as possible, and get it passed,” Mrs. Persad-Bissessar said.
“Let’s end this here now. I call upon the Government: let us get this Bill back to Parliament,” the Opposition Leader stated. “Let us cut the sunset clause in half – let us come back to the Parliament in two and a half years.”
“Let us meet halfway, and I and the Opposition commit to getting the Bill passed – let’s get it done at the earliest opportunity,” she said.
The Opposition Leader said, “I want to tell the Government that if you are serious that this Bill will solve crime, accept two and a half years for the sunset clause and we will support you.”