“What is wrong with this country?”
It was the question from Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi as he lamented the Opposition’s continued resistance to the renewal of the Anti-Gang Act, which he said citizens have been clamouring for recently.
In an interview on CNC3’s The Morning Brew, Al-Rawi accused the United National Congress (UNC) of not wanting to support laws that will protect citizens. It is up to the Government and Independent benches to pass laws, he said.
On Monday, Al-Rawi piloted a less forceful version of the Anti-Gang Act, 2018, laying amendments in the Upper House that include police now needing a warrant to enter and search premises and only detaining suspected criminals for 48 hours as opposed to 72 hours. Government requires a simple majority for the passage of the Bill and the sunset clause has been removed.
However, the UNC called for the requirements for a special majority vote and the sunset clause to be reinstated.
Opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial said a sunset clause would allow Parliament to measure the effectiveness of the Bill, which she described as draconian. Lutchmedial said everything in the Bill is already an offence. She further claimed that Al-Rawi had brought the Bill at a time when emotions were running high.
Lutchmedial said the Opposition did not support previous versions of the legislation since there was no evidence to show effectiveness, and the statistics cited on the reduction of gangs did not state where those members went.
In response, Al-Rawi asked: “Why are we fighting in this country to stop a law that has been proven to have a very positive effect? What is wrong with us in this country, respectfully?
“We are arguing about whether we should have an anti-gang law. Canada has it, the United States has it, Jamaica has it, Caricom has it, Europe has it, and Trinidad and Tobago cannot have it? What is wrong with this country?”
Al-Rawi said statistics were available to the Opposition and Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith had said that under the Anti-Gang Act, 2018, there was a 30 per cent reduction in the number of gangs and a 58 per cent decrease in gang members as of 2018.