By Jasminee Sahoye
CASTRIES, St Lucia – Legislation to amend sections of the Anti-Gang Bill in St Lucia will be debated this Thursday in the Senate as the government moves to tackle the emergency of criminal gangs.
Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony said it was important for criminals in St Lucia to get the strong message contained in the legislation. “We have to tackle this matter head-on. It cannot be that this is occurring in our society with impunity: that people are being murdered by gang members.”
Anthony said. He added that the bill was not intended to persecute innocent people but, to make people think twice about joining criminal gangs.
Anthony said that the judiciary would determine whether or not suspects accused of committing an offence were indeed members of a gang.
“I’m not saying that this piece of legislation is perfect. As a matter of fact (Opposition legislator Richard Frederick) may be right that the lawyers will have a field day (with it). But I would prefer that the legislation be in place and they have a field day than it is not in place to deal with the problems that we have,” Anthony said.
Newly appointed Opposition Leader, Dr Gale Rigobert, said that while steps needed to be taken to curb crime, the definition of “gang” in the bill appears to be ambiguous.
“We on this side recognise that we can no longer continue in an environment where the criminals appear to have their way. That is precisely that we, too, want to live in a safe environment that we have gone through this bill very thoroughly to highlight its shortcomings. And we recognise all too well that legislation is crafted in time and space that it speaks to the context of the day. (Extracted from a CMC story)