February 25, 2011

The Anti-Gang Bill 2010

The Anti-gang bill, which was introduced on July, 16th 2010, aims to eliminate criminal gangs, whose presence have been growing in the recent years. Not only does it criminalize the act of joining a gang, but the bill also features some articles that attempt to dissuade individuals from harboring gang members.

As stated in the Bill, gang members or people who attempt to be members can serve a sentence of up to twenty years and should those convicted be a leader of a gang, they can be put in jail for the rest of their lives. Although not as severe, the penalty for a police officials guilty of breaking this act is imprisonment for up to 25 years.

Even if not technically a member of a gang, people who aid members or commit acts directed by  a gang member, are guilty of breaking the articles of this bill and are liable to a fine and 25 years in jail. Liable to face 15 years are persons who harbors wanted gang members.

People who possess bullet proof vests, firearms, or ammunitions, that are intended to be use for gang related activities, will, if convicted, face a sentence not exceeding 15 years.

The bill also seek to gave the police the authority to  arrest, without a warrant, anyone who is suspected of being a gang member.

This bill was referred to committee in December and is just one step away from being a law.

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February 18, 2011

Constitution Amendment Capital Offences Act 2011

To enact stricter penalties against convicts, the Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan recently introduced this bill that will impose capital punishment on those who commit a specific category of murder. Currently, convicts can be sentenced to the  death penalty, but because of a policy that maintains a 5 year limit to executing the sentence after conviction, set by the British privy counselor, the highest court of the county, death row inmates, using appeals, are able to avoid death by the hands of the state. The bill aims to circumvent this limitation , making it easier to carry out the sentence.

The bill, if passed, will amend the constitution to contain clauses that give the president the authority to set time limits to appeals, after which a person can’t ask the court to reconsider its verdict. When the limit expires, the committee to whom the convict is appealing, is required to make a decision regardless of the progress of the appeal. As the bill intends to add to the constitution, it requires a special majority of 3/4ths the members of the House of Representive in order to pass.

The bill also mandates the penalty to those convicted to the charge of Murder 1, the most serious murder conviction. Included in this category are murders of police and prison officials,  murders motived by discrimination,  murders intended to intimidate a person into not testifying against someone.   Under the Murder 2 category, the  bill details the specifics that will lead to the death penalty.

There are also some clauses in the bill that are design to ensure the fair execution of the penalty, but  these are insufficient to satisfy the concerned organizations that believe the time limits to appeal “violates defendants’ rights by denying them due process guaranteed under international law”

The second hearing of the bill was on the 17th of February, 2011.

February 16, 2011

Hello world!Introduction

Trinbagospeak is an impartial blog that seeks to inform the public on the important developments in Trinidad and Tobago’s parliament, where the laws of the country are formed. Our goal is to contribute to the advancement of our democracy, which is a relatively young one, by clearly presenting the proposals, bills, and laws that are being considered by our leaders.

In our country, it is important that the citizens are aware of the measures taken by our representatives to protect our rights and our ability to live a pleasant life, as guaranteed in our constitution. Therefore, Trinbagospeak will attempt to describe the consequences, intended or otherwise, of the proposed bills and laws.

As Trinbagospeak overall purpose is to improve our democracy,  it will also present other features intended to help the public better understand the political history of our republic, advancing  a modest civic education, which will only inspire and improve our readers. Trinbagospeak will feature a page, called Constitution, where it will acquaint our readers with the founding document on which our democracy is built.

Also featured on the blog is a page called Ministers, where it will introduce our readers to the current Ministers, who are each responsible for a portfolio that describes their important duties. There will be other features on the blog, all of which are connected to the central mission of improving our country.

Trinbagospeak will help its readers track and better understand the activities of the Trinidad and Tobago legislature, thus giving them, you,  the ability to hold our leaders more accountable.