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Elder: PI bill is bad law

The trinidad Guardian / The bill intended to abolish preliminary inquiries in this country, which is currently before the Parliament, is “bad law” akin to the controversial healthcare bill recently proposed by United States President Donald Trump, Senior Counsel Pamela Elder has said.

And just like Trump’s healthcare bill, the Indictable Offences (Pre Trial Procedure) Bill 2017 should not be passed, Elder has said.

Elder made the statement yesterday during a press conference held at the law firm, Guerra, Elder and Associates located along Alfredo Street in Woodbrook. She was surrounded by other members of the chamber

“At our Chambers we are extremely concerned about this bill which the honourable Attorney General (Faris Al Rawi) has stated the object is to abolish preliminary inquiries,” Elder said.

Elder said the members of her chamber had given “deep thought” to the clauses in the bill.

“It is our considered opinion, our view, that this bill does nothing to address the issues plaguing the criminal justice system,” she said.

“Let me say the intentions behind this bill seem noble but it is bad law,” Elder said.

Elder said while Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard on Friday described the bill as “short sighted” to her it is a “compilation of legislative babble” or “old talk”.

“It is flawed, it disregards the rights of the accused, it is contradictory in certain respects, it contains a cut and paste approach in that certain clauses have been pulled from the existing act (that it is meant to replace) and placed in this bill without an understanding as to the significance of those clauses,” she said.

Elder highlighted issues arising out of clauses 14, 17 and 26 of the bill to bolster his point.

“The bill, with due respect to whoever drafted it, shows a deep misunderstanding of criminal practice and procedure. This bill is going to wreck the system. It is a wrecking bill,” Elder said.

Elder said after she heard Gaspard state that there are at least 800 murder cases already before the High Court and that if preliminary inquires are abolished people will just join the queue she immediately thought about this year’s road march tune, “we jamming still”.

Elder said the bill should not have been piloted by Al-Rawi until he “got and considered the views of all the stakeholders or persons who work the system”.

This was not done, she said.

“If you are going to abolish a system which has been in existence since time immemorial you should have a think tank in the drafting of the bill, not draft something like this and send it to people to comment because anybody who knows about criminal law will realise that to comment on that you have to redraft the whole thing,” she said.

Elder said consultation must be done in the preparation and the drafting of the legislation.

“This bill is akin to Trump’s healthcare bill and you see what happened to that. This should go the way of Trump’s healthcare bill,” she said.

On Friday, Trump suffered political setback in the US Congress when leaders of his own party pulled legislation to overhaul that country’s healthcare system.

Elder said she was out of the country for the majority of the year and was not able to raise her concerns with Al-Rawi.

“I sat and listened to the (Parliamentary) debate hoping that I would hear these concerns being raised by speakers,” she said.

Elder said she hopes her concerns will open the eyes of the nation’s senators.

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