One of the country’s leading defense attorneys, Peter Champagnie, is urging Parliament to be careful in its review of the Zones of Special Operations Bill.
Mr. Champagnie believes it’s ‘unnecessary’ and says aspects of it could be ‘dangerous’. He’s also doubtful about whether it’ll work in the ways being suggested by the government.
His assessment comes as debate continues on the bill the Prime Minister tabled in March as part of his government’s response to the country’s high murder rate.
If passed into law, the bill would allow the Prime Minister to declare an area, a zone for special security operations and community development activities.
It’d also give law enforcement special powers to intervene in those areas. But Mr. Champagnie has a fear about the proposed law.
He says the security forces may abuse the powers the proposed law would provide them. He says it’ll likely cause more problems.
Mr. Champagnie also feels the bill is unnecessary.
He says the only new provision in the bill is the power it proposes to give the security forces to do searches without a warrant.
But he says this already happens.
And, Chairman of the Peace Management Initiative, Horace Levy, says the power the bill seeks to give the Prime Minister is dangerous.
He’s taking issue with what he says is a proposal by the bill to give the Prime Minister power to declare special zones for extended periods, without approval from parliament.
Mr. Levy says he’s also concerned that the bill makes no mention of human rights training for security forces.
In a discussion last evening on Nationwide @5, he outlined a series of human rights abuses at the hands of the security forces.
Mr. Levy says more accountability is needed for members of the security forces who commit those breaches.
And he says requirements of the security forces, in the bill, are already demanded by the Independent Commission of Investigations, INDECOM.