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Wednesday 24 July 2019
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Ex-colleagues differ on Anti-Gang Act

FORMER Cabinet colleagues Dr Roodal Moonilal, Dr Surujrattan Rambachan and Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan on Tuesday expressed different views on the effectiveness of the Anti-Gang Act 2018 in dealing with the crime problem.

The three were members of former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s cabinet. The act was proclaimed on May 28.

Moonilal said, “So far we have seen no difference.” Recalling the bill was passed because it received government and opposition support, he added, “I am still hopeful that the support the UNC gave on that measure will bear fruit,”

He said, it took some days for the bill to be proclaimed after the House approved Senate amendments to it on May 4, but said, “The act has been enforced and as the Government and police declared it was needed and will make a difference.”

The Oropouche East MP added he was under the impression the impact of the bill “would have been sudden.”

But Seepersad-Bachan, who is Congress of the People (COP) political leader, said a more holistic approach is needed to combat crime, and did not believe the bill on its own will have an impact. Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, Seepersad-Bachan argued, should have brought the Anti-Gang Bill as part of a suite of anti-crime legislation.

She claimed there is no co-ordinated or collaborative approach by various entities to deal with related issues such as the backlog of cases in the Judiciary and proper training for police officers.

Rambachan claimed the People’s National Movement’s goal is to “find fault with the opposition and find excuses for their inaction.”

The Tabaquite MP said criminals do not fear the security forces and citizens have lost confidence in the police. Saying criminals feel strength instead of fear in the current scenario, Rambachan asked, “When it takes 13 years to start a murder trial, how can anti-gang legislation work?”

He lamented, “No one in authority is taking charge of the chaos in our country.”

Former Police Service Commission chairman Prof Ramesh Deosaran on Sunday said he believed that once it is properly used, the Anti-Gang Act could play a valuable role as a tool to disrupt criminal networks.

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