In this briefing, we explain why the UNC did not support the extension of the Bail Amendment Act, to answer the lies of the PNM.
What is this bill about?
The bill sought to extend the Bail Amendment Bill which was due to expire August 5th 2022
Why is it important?
If this bill was passed bail may be denied to a person who is charged with a listed offence that is punishable for a term of imprisonment of ten years or more. The Opposition firmly believes that the right to APPLY for bail is a fundamental human right and should not be taken away casually.
The government ought to leave the right to grant or deny bail in the hands of the Judiciary, to hear everyone’s case individually.
What were the problems?
In 2019, the Opposition told the PNM that this measure would not help solve crime, but they insisted we give it a chance, WHICH WE DID.
Both the Opposition and the Independent Senators agreed that there must be a time limit. The Government was not been able to reduce crime using this bill, so there is no justification to continue to go against our constitution.
The Privy Council, in its Akili Charles judgement has ruled that it is unconstitutional for the Parliament to deny a person their right to apply for bail. This is both because “The protection of liberty and the security of the person by law is, by long tradition, recognised as a fundamental value in the common law” and also that “the separation of judicial and executive powers… serve as a primary protection of individual liberty”.
Has the problem been solved?
Yes, through the brilliant debating skills of our Senators, we were able to convince the Independent Senators that denying people the right to apply to bail goes against the constitution and the entire tradition of Common Law, so should not be continued.
The bill was therefore not successfully passed.
Are there any outstanding issues?
PNM intends to bring the bill back. No doubt they will change a word here and there to try to get it passed without Opposition support. This continues to remain a serious issue with this Government.
What recommendations/if any, did we present to improve the bill?
The bill itself cannot be improved. Removing a person’s right to apply for bail is morally and constitutionally wrong, and also has had no effect on reducing crime.
The government has to focus on resourcing the TTPS, the Judiciary and other crime fighting and crime prevention measures. Taking away the constitutional rights of citizens is a lazy, draconian and ineffective approach to dealing with crime.