THIS GOVERNMENT would be blind sided in its fight against crime without Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, said Opposition Senator Saddam Hosein.
He was contributing to debate on the Bail (Amendment) Bill in the Senate yesterday. The bill seeks to restrict bail for people held with illegal weapons for 120 days.
Hosein described the bill as a "reactive measure" and explained in this country you have an attorney general, you have a minister of national security and you have a commissioner of police.
"The Minister of National Security is responsible for setting the policy of the Government. The Attorney General is responsible for converting that policy into law and bringing it to the Parliament. And thirdly, the Commissioner of Police is charged with the responsibility to enforce the laws that this particular Parliament passes. That is how I understand the system to work.
"The Commissioner of Police expressed severe dissatisfaction with respect to an instance that took place in the courts with respect to the granting of bail. And all of a sudden there is an amendment to the Bail Act. So it seems in this country that the Commissioner of Police has to fight crime, he have to tell the Government which law he want and he have to create policy. That shows the incompetence of this PNM Government. Because without Gary Griffith, the Commissioner of Police, this Government is blind sided when it comes to crime."
Hosein said he agreed with the Commissioner that one sub-machine-gun gun can take a number of lives and added that those guns were coming in through this country's porous borders.
"The figures show a booming trade. Crime is probably the most booming trade in TT."
He criticised Government for its piece-meal approach to the legislation and said this amendment could have been added previously. He also said that no right-thinking citizen should have an automatic firearm, bomb or grenade but citizens' constitutional rights must also be protected. He stressed that bail was not a punishment but was meant to secure the attendance of the accused in court.
He said he expected the Attorney General, who piloted the bill, to bring a report of the last bail amendment to Parliament including how many people had been denied bail and what was the stage of the proceedings. Hosein said the Attorney General spoke about arrests but not about how many convictions and sentencing, adding that bail was not a deterrent to criminal activity but sentencing was.
He also criticised the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Security for attacking lawyers and said if there is evidence of lawyers being involved in criminal activity then "lock them up.
"Do not paint the rest of us as criminals."
He said the executive must have respect for the judiciary of TT.
Hosein also pointed to one of the disadvantages of the bill being that if a person was in the same house or car as an illegal weapon they would be deemed to be in possession and denied bail.
"There can be misconduct and misuse of this legislation."
He said that if the law was in place (in 2002) when missiles were found in the water tank of former minister Sadiq Baksh then he would have been denied bail. He also pointed out that there had been judicial decisions where police had planted illegal substances on people.
"What stops any police officer from a planting a firearm on you?"