Saturday, March 16, 2013

No violation of constitution in defence amendment bill: PM Kamla

File: PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told legislators Friday the government is not violating the constitution by giving soldiers special powers. 

She made the point in her contribution to the debate on the Defence (Amendment) Bill 2013, noting that the government has received legal advice on the matter from former Independent Senator Dana Seetahal and Sir Fenton Ramsahoye.

She quoted from Seetahal's opinion, pointing out that Seetahal stated that there are several examples of Parliament conferring police powers to public officers and those amendments were passed with a simple majority.

"Ms Seetahal has argued very forcefully that the bill does not alter any provision of the Constitution and that there is no need for a special majority," Persad-Bissessar said.

She said according to Seetahal the amendment does not permit Defence Force members to exercise police powers at large and that the proposal does not create any "special class of police officers".

With respect to Sir Fenton, she said his opinion is that the three-fifths majority will be adequate.

She also noted that the Chamber of Commerce has said the government's move is an "effective weapon" in crime fighting and Islamic organisation, ASJA said it supports the "gallant efforts".

Persad-Bissessar reminded the House that while some people are objecting to giving special powers to soldiers Daphne Bartlett, president of the San Fernando Business Association, said she prefers a police state to a criminal state. The PM said her preference is none of the two. What she wants, she said, is a safe society.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai