The Law Association has finally responded to the Attorney General's request for feedback on the Anti-Gang Bill. In a letter delievered yesterday, the Association, took aim at Sections 15 and 16 of the proposed legislation, in particular:
i- Offences (related to the definition of "gang" and "gang-related activities");
ii- Breaches of the Constitution (and the freedoms so enshrined); strict liability (being held accountable regardless of actual intent to do harm– in this case, just being a member of a gang);
iii- Search warrants (where a Magistrate needs only grant a search warrant based solely on a police officer's belief of infringements);
iv- Detention (where police can hold a suspect for three days just on suspicion, and if not charged, the detainee has no recourse);
v- Ex parte detention orders (a one-sided approach where the police can apply for a 14-day detention order but the detainee cannot challenge it); and
vi- Minor offences (where records of why a person is taken into custody aren't properly kept because of unavailablity of police diaries).
The Law Association has recommended that these aspects of the legislation be clarified and tightened to ensure that the rights of a person are upheld. They also noted that since the executive did not have time to submit the Bill to its members, the suggestions presented are from the Council of Law Association and its Legislative Review Committee. The letter was signed by Douglas Mendes, SC, the Association's president.