Senator Richards supports bill to extend life of Bail Act

File photo: Independent Senator Paul Richards.
File photo: Independent Senator Paul Richards.

INDEPENDENT Senator Paul Richards declared his support for the Bail Amendment Bill 2022 during his contribution to debate in the Senate on Monday.

The purpose of the bill is to extend the duration of the sunset clause contained in the Bail Act which will expire on August 5. The act came into force on August 5, 2019 and contained a sunset clause which permitted it to remain in force for a period of three years.

Should the bill be passed, it will extend the period of the sunset clause for one more year, ending on August 4, 2023.

It lays out the circumstances in which bail may be denied to a person who is charged with a listed offence that is punishable for a term of imprisonment for ten years or more. These listed offences include, but are not limited to, trafficking in narcotics or possession of narcotics for the purpose of trafficking, possession and use of firearms or ammunition with intent to injure, rape, sexual intercourse with a female under 14 and buggery.

While he had his doubts about the bill being an effective anti-crime deterrent, Richards said no one could ignore the very disturbing spectre of crime being reported within recent times in TT. "These are frightening times."

Against this background, Richards supported measures that kept a repeat offender in jail and unable to cause mass carnage in society, even if that person's rights were violated.

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one."

Richards recalled that in 2019, the Opposition supported similar legislation to extend the law.

"What has changed?"

He believed that under the current circumstances, not supporting the bill's passage would be "an absolute dereliction of duty."

Describing the extension of the law as a stop-gap measure, Richards said more long-term solutions to deal with crime must be developed.

He was concerned that part of the recent upsurge in crime was due to criminal gangs splintering into smaller groups which were intensifying their activities. Richards said a 2021 Strategic Services Agency report submitted to Parliament indicated that gangs were starting to recruit younger members into their ranks.

He asked whether the existing anti-gang law was designed to cater for this development when it came to the detection and conviction of people for gang-related crimes.


"Senator Richards supports bill to extend life of Bail Act"

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