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Another anti-crime offensive

AG Jeremie warns: No one will be above the law

By Gail Alexander

Government launched another anti-crime offensive yesterday, including moves to resume hangings and a proposed "emergency" legislative package involving a return of the police reform and bail bills, Attorney General John Jeremie revealed.

As the murder rate hit 151 and kidnappings 28, the Government delivered a two-pronged approach on the crucial issue in Parliament, with statements by Jeremie and National Security Minister Martin Joseph.

Joseph, preceding Jeremie, outlined crime statistics and anti-crime measures. He said gang-related homicides and kidnappings continued to provide a serious challenge.

Joseph said the Government had established an Incident Co-ordinating Centre with foreign assistance to deal with kidnappings.

Intelligence also revealed there were 66 known gangs in T&T, with 500 hardcore members, he added.

Admitting the severe effects of the crime problem, Jeremie said, "Every outrage has had cumulative effect on the ordinary law-abiding citizens of T&T.

"Our international image has been affected. Our national pride has been offended. Our sense of terror has increased, all as a relatively small band of criminals have held us at ransom and sought to change our lives.

He said every institution must play its part.

Jeremie said the legislature must rise above partisan political considerations and the judiciary must recognise and fulfil its role.

"Government intends that every person on death row will be hanged if the opportunity is available to the State," he said.

"If the courts intervene, the State will, cognisant with the rule of law, do everything within its power to pursue the sentence of death in relation to every person on death row."

Jeremie said the State intended to insist that the courts, going through to the Privy Council, revisited the decision in the case of Pratt and Morgan.

That decision meant prisoners had to be executed within five years of being sentenced, failing which the sentence had to be commuted to life imprisonment.

To enable the judiciary to function more efficiently, Jeremie also laid a package of "emergency" legislation-the heart of the Government's latest anti-crime initiative-which he said the Government proposed to debate "to finality."

The legislation is aimed at ensuring speedy trials, protecting victims and witnesses to ensure the justice system is not undermined by existing loopholes, strengthening the DPP's powers to expedite prosecution of serious offences, and empowering and modernising the police service to handle the crime crisis.

Jeremie warned that the rule of law required that each person, "everyone in this Chamber and outside, everyone from Mucurapo to Westmoorings, from Morvant to Cedros, was subject to one law."

He said significant steps had been taken in the past fortnight in relation to terrorist activity and corruption, and in months to come the Government's efforts in these areas would multiply.

"Our objective is to explain to all, regardless of political persuasion, that corruption and terror are crimes and that as crimes they will be punished with every resource of the State, no matter what," Jeremie said.

Emergency package

Bail (Amendment) Bill 2005

Summary Courts Amendment Bill

Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill

Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions ) Bill

Constitution (Amendment) Bill

Police Service Bill

Police Complaints Authority Bill

Corporal Punishment (Offenders over 18) Amendment Bill)

Corporal Punishment (Offenders not over 18) Amendment Bill.

2004-2005 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

http://www.guardian.co.tt/news1.html

Trinidad and Tobago News

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