Persad-Bissesar: Opposition not to blame for failure to pass Anti-Gang legislation

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the Government is playing politics with crime and blames yesterday's breakdown of law and order in East Port-of-Spain on the inability of the Government to get crime under control.

The Opposition Leader says in a statement that the Opposition is not to blame for the failure so far to pass the Anti-Gang legislation and insists that the Government only needs to agree to a sunset clause of two years for the Opposition's support.

Persad-Bissesar issued the following statement on Tuesday.

"The safety and security of our citizens are being sacrificed on a daily basis.

The events that transpired in East Port-of-Spain yesterday demonstrate the lack of competence and the inability of this Rowley led administration to address the most serious problem facing our nation.

The Keith Rowley administration continues to play politics with crime by alleging that the events of Monday 19th February in east Port of Spain justify the passage of the Anti-Gang Legislation. This is a continuation of the chorus of the Attorney General subsequent to the shooting death of young Joshua Andrews earlier this year.

If the passage of the Anti-Gang legislation is the government’s panacea for the crime scourge that plagues each and every citizen of our nation, the government should stop the betrayal of the people of our country and accept the Opposition’s offer of a two-year sunset clause and proceed to the Parliament post haste to have this legislation passed.

The Opposition remains prepared to pass the Anti-Gang legislation and my team has provided advice to the government to address deficiencies in the draft amended Bill presented to us by the Attorney General.

We sought to cure fundamental flaws in the legislation which would have provided avenues for persons prosecuted to defeat valid prosecutions. The Government has promised to draft the relevant amendments and provide same to the Opposition for consideration.

Further, we have proposed a two-year sunset clause so as to allow for parliamentary scrutiny of the operation the Anti-Gang legislation. Once the law is put into effect and law enforcement demonstrates the proper exercise of the powers conferred by the Act, it is a fait accompli that the legislation would be extended at the end of the two-year sunset clause.

The question must be asked as to why the Government refuses to subject the law and the actions of law enforcement to parliamentary scrutiny, as we have proposed, after two years.

I call on the Government to disclose the reasons why they are unwilling to accept a two-year sunset clause, which seeks to guarantee that there exists a parliamentary check and balance on the very draconian powers that are conferred by the agencies of law enforcement.

The incompetence of this Keith Rowley-led Government is resulting in the safety and security of our citizens and more particularly, our women and children being compromised. Their only answer is, and has been for 29 months, is to blame the Opposition.

The Prime Minister’s inability to lead is resulting in a total breakdown of law and order in our country, the destruction of our democracy and the main causality in this debacle is our beloved country Trinidad and Tobago and the future that belongs to our children."

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