Trinidad’s anti-gang legislation effective today


The Cabinet has issued instructions to President Paula Mae-Weekes to proclaim the Anti-Gang Act, 2018 today — legislation that will give the police power to pursue and prosecute all members from criminal gangs.

The Attorney General’s Office in a statement on Saturday said the instructions given to the president follows written approval from the Cabinet, the Judiciary and the police service.

“This Act is one of several legislative measures that have been undertaken to buttress the criminal justice system and assist law enforcement in its fight against crime,” the ministry said.

The ministry said the Act did not come into force on the date of assent on account of Section 2, the commencement section, which provides that the Act shall come into operation upon Proclamation.

“As such, the Government immediately commenced the process of consultation to ensure readiness by the key stakeholders for implementation of the Act.”

The ministry said the Government had done all in its power to ensure the critical legislative intervention was effected with urgency for the benefit of all citizens of the twin-island republic.

The Bill, which caused much contention between the Government and the Opposition, had been defeated last December when the Opposition refused to back it because it did not approve of the four-year sunset clause.

After agreeing to a 30-month sunset clause, the Opposition supported the Bill, which needed a three-fifths majority to pass. It was passed in the House of Representatives in March and one month later in the Senate.

In a report yesterday, the Trinidad Guardian newspaper quoted sources as saying that the Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit of the police service has been keeping close tabs on approximately 2,459 suspected gang members nationwide whose names, whereabouts, and alleged activities are known to authorities.

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