Crime Bills for Parliament today

Deportees to be monitored
Stabroek News
September 19, 2002

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A bill to allow police to monitor deportees who were convicted of certain offences when overseas, is one of four measures to be tabled today when Parliament is recalled from recess.

The Prevention of Crimes (Amendment) Bill 2002, as outlined in its explanatory memorandum, “seeks to introduce legislation that allows Guyanese convicted of certain offences in a foreign state and who are deported to Guyana to be effectively monitored by the police.”

According to the provisions proposed in the bill certain classes of deportees including those who elected to return in lieu of deportation can be subject to supervision. Further the amendment also proposes to allow the court in dealing with such individuals for offences committed here, to receive as evidence their foreign criminal records.

This bill along with the Criminal Law (Offences) (Amendment) Bill and the Racial Hostility (Amendment) Bill, will be introduced by Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj.

According to Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Reepu Daman Persaud, they are a response to the recent upsurge in criminal activities.

As outlined in the explanatory memorandum, the Criminal Law bill will “seek to create the specific offence of the commission of a terrorist act.”

Persaud described the legislation as innovative and relatively new and according to the memorandum is deemed “necessary in view of the mounting violence in which the country is engulfed. It is hoped that this measure would serve as a deterrent to those who were inclined to commit acts of violence including destruction of property.”

The bill to fight racial hostility as outlined in its memorandum, will substantially increase penalties for offenses committed under the act.

Further the bill will seek to widen the definition of “record” to include any film, negative, tape or other device so that a person who commits offences under the act through the use of such media can be found guilty.

The new provision also seeks to provide persons who suffer damages under the act with the means to enforce their rights in the civil courts.

The Evidence (Amendment) Bill, to be introduced by Attorney General Doodnauth Singh, will increase penalties while broadening the scope for evidence to allow disc, tape, soundtrack and other devices in which sound and data are embodied, to be admissible in court.

The bill’s introduction according to Persaud was precipitated by consultations with a number of organisations including those of a judicial nature, to get their views.

It was the minister’s opinion that citizens want to live in peace and harmony and he said it was everyone’s duty and obligation including that of the press, to assist in bringing about “this most desired condition of peace, stability and harmony.”

Persaud said the bills will merely be introduced today and will have continuation dates, preferably early next week, being quickly fixed to facilitate debate and subsequently passage.

“Although there is need for a revision of laws, we need to deal with the current situation and this is a step I gather is generally welcomed,” the minister said.

He further alluded to the fact that, “there have been calls for measures of this nature; those calls have been answered and the government has responded positively.”

Persaud did not know if the PNCR MPs would be attending today’s sitting, but appealed for their participation in the interest of the nation.

He said a matter of such national importance transcends politics and is one that needs a unified voice.

The PNCR when contacted on the issue confirmed that it would continue to boycott sittings of the assembly until its demands, as outlined some time ago are satisfied.