UNC Chief Whip, David Lee said the Opposition’s responsibility is to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, not to the PNM Government.
He issued the statement in response to statements made about his party’s failure to support the anti-gang bill.
Lee said “We are not there to rubberstamp legislation that places a Band-Aid over an open wound while the Government ignores the wound that is festering.”
He said “The proliferation of gangs can be directly attributed to poverty, lack of employment opportunities and shortcomings in the system of education. The PNM government has placed thousands of young people on the path towards crime by cutting expenditure on education, failing to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and ignoring the plight of the most vulnerable in our society. They have presided over massive jobs losses and closure of businesses.”
“The solution in our view is not to be found in draconian legislation which gives the police the power to ride roughshod over the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.
He added: “More so, the Opposition has not seen any convincing evidence that these measures, which were in place for the last 30 months have made a significant impact on the scourge of crime plaguing our country.
Lee stated that “when the Opposition supported the Government in 2018, the Attorney General bold-facedly said that he knew every gang by name, by membership, by location and by association. He proclaimed that there were approximately 2500 gang members in Trinidad and Tobago. When you look at the number of arrests since 2018, there is a total of 49 arrests, which do not equate to charges or convictions.”
He asked: “Why have these 2500 gang members not been charged and prosecuted?”
Le said “The Attorney General has taken the population for fools.
The Government is engaging in legislative insanity by doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.”
“The reason why a sunset clause was included is to ensure that the law is subject to review having regard to the draconian powers it gives to law enforcement being able to detain a person for 14 days without a charge.”
“Every charge under the law, will remain and the State has the right to prosecute those individuals even if the law is not continued. No person who is charged under the current law will be set free. It is trite law that an offence committed whilst a law is in effect can still be prosecuted.”
The statistics show that the Anti-Gang Act has not worked. The offences that are classified as gang-related offences are already laws on the books for which a person can be charged such as – possession of firearm, murder, kidnapping and drug-related offences. How then can the Government justify continuing this law?