Wednesday, March 6, 2013

PM says nothing to fear from soldiers getting powers of arrest but opposition will oppose bill in Parliament

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar promised on Monday that there will be mechanisms in place to protect citizens from abuse by soldiers who may be given the same powers as police. 

She spoke with reporter at the opening of the $2.5 million National Energy Skills Centre Debe Campus at SS Erin Road, Debe. 

She said under the proposals for 
Government’s proposed amendment to the Defence Act soldiers won't operate "as a police force unto themselves, on their own". She said they will be working alongside police officers.

The Prime Minister explained that soldiers who act alongside police and have the same duties as the police would fall under the jurisdiction of the Police Complaints Authority. That would take care of concerns and would allow the state to strengthen personnel in the fight against crime. 

The amendment, which seeks to give soldiers the same powers as police officers will be debated at Friday's sitting of the House of Representatives. Attorney General Anand Ramlogan will present the bill, which requires a simple majority to pass. 

However, the Opposition is insisting it will oppose the measure. Opposition senator Fitzgerald Hinds called it a "knee-jerk reaction" to deal with crime.

Hinds said the Opposition and "the majority of citizens" believe that the National Security Minister is attempting to create a private army.

He said it would be better to increase the strength of the police service to  between 10,000 and 12,000 officers.

The explanatory note to the bill says it seeks to amend the legislation to confer any member of the Defence Force, while assisting police in the fight against crime, "with the same powers, authorities, privileges and immunities” as police officers". 

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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