Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 8th 2014 Contents A8
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, February 8, 2014
Amendments to the Bail (Amendment) Bill 2013 were
passed in the House of Representatives yesterday after
it received full support from the 27 MPs on the govern-
ment benches, while the Opposition People s National
Movement s 12 members voted against it.
Speaker of the House Wade Mark declared that amend-
ments four, five and six were approved by a constitutional
During the debate, MP for Diego Martin North/East
Colm Imbert said the Government was declaring judges
to be incompetent and incapable of determining whether
a person had a right to bail, describing the various "strikes"
system against repeat offenders as a "multi-tiered regime."
"When one looks at what the Government is doing, the
Government has taken sort of a sledgehammer approach
to the question of judicial discretion," Imbert said.
"What this Parliament is attempting to do today is
usurp the role of the judiciary."
He spoke directly to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan,
who introduced the bill in November 2013, saying what
would end up happening was that someone would file a
motion on the grounds that the bill infringes on the sep-
aration of powers.
Ramlogan disputed Imbert s assertion about the Par-
liament infringing on the judiciary.
"This bill in no way can it be interpreted, misinterpreted,
represented or misrepresented as an attack against the
judiciary," Ramlogan said.
Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner left the chamber
before the vote.
• The three strikes provision was removed, as at least
two prior convictions for certain dangerous offences would
mean bail was permanently denied.
• The category of criminal offences was expanded for
the existing one- and two-strike policy, including offences
under the Firearm Act, Larceny Act, Dangerous Drugs
Act, Trafficking in Persons Act, Malicious Damage Act,
Sexual Offences Act, and the Children Act. These offences
attract a penalty of a ten-year sentence or more.
• Anti-Gang Act offences were removed from schedule
of offences for the bill, as the Anti-Gang Act already
denied bail to gang members and gang leaders for up to
120 days. A conviction recorded under the act counted as
a strike for the purpose of the bill.
• Any convictions before the bill became law counted
as a strike, and there was no "reset" button, according to
• If the prosecution starts its case within 120 days, and
it does not finish within a year, the defendant has right
to apply for bail. Within that year, the defendant must
remain incarcerated. Ramlogan described this provision
as a "double-edged sword" as it allowed prosecution to
target the more dangerous and violent criminals, and fast-
track certain trials.
• Criminal deportees brought back to T&T will have
their previous convictions in foreign jurisdictions counted
as a strike.
• In the case of a person with multiple matters pending
but no convictions, upon conviction in one matter, the
court was mandated to review the grant of bail, taking
into consideration all the other outstanding matters.
• The legislation will expire on August 15, 2016.
Amended Bail Bill
approved by House
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan s
attempts to address the shortage of
nurses by amending the Nurses and
Midwives Registration Act in the Lower
House yesterday was described by
Opposition MP Dr Amery Browne as
Browne demanded a complete with-
drawal of the bill.
"The bill is not ready. It should be
Browne cited a proposal to allow the
minister to bring in foreign nurses in the
event of a national disaster and have them
operate as if issued with a licence as the
most dangerous aspect.
"Authorised quacks!" one of his col-
leagues shouted in apparent disbelief.
Browne added: "Times of emergency
should be times of reason and the minister
should not be given such control of nurs-
ing personnel. We have highly qualified
and responsible nurses here."
Browne charged Khan made the
amendments by consulting only the
Nursing Council and left out a constel-
lation of nursing groups. He said the
amendments amounted to a general low-
ering of requirements to become a nurse.
He claimed members of the Nursing
Council were quite alarmed when Khan,
in a media interview, said all that was
required to be a nurse was one secondary
school subject and a passion for nurs-
That was "toxic" to the ears of those
with a knowledge of nursing, Browne
told the House.
He said nurses were under threat and
Khan s presentation was "clinical, almost
surgical," indicating disrespect for the
beleaguered nursing fraternity.
He said he wanted to dismantle any
notion that the minister had an appre-
ciation of the health sector.
Browne said there was no definition
of a registered nurse in the bill and what
existed right now in the health sector
was "a little free-for-all," with a variety
of people looking like nurses and acting
like nurses but who were really not nurses
One of Khan s proposed amendments
was to allow disqualified nursing students
to operate on a provisional certificate
until they can pass the exam.
Khan said he had got numerous com-
plaints from former nursing students,
who said most of their failures were in
practical exams in 2008, where there was
often one educator to about 100 students
and they did not get the required atten-
He said it was heart-wrenching to hear
the plight of students who failed the
exams and had to start back from scratch
after four years, or abandon the profession
Khan said an increase in nurses would
allow for rural health clinics to open later.
He said in the recent Beetham landfill
fire hazard, when toxic smoke posed a
threat to many, the ministry was unable
to open clinics later than usual because
of the shortage of nurses.
Khan said the ministry was hoping to
construct a training academy for nurses,
doctors and other health professionals.
But Browne dismissed Khan s proposal
to allow nurses to enter the system with
one subject, saying it all amounted to
"an excessive lowering of the bar."
The solution, he said, had to do with
addressing the conditions of the physical
and financial systems under which nurses
He said registered nurses get all the
blame from the public but are stretched
thin like rubber bands," supervising
enrolled nursing assistants, patient care
assistants and aides to nurses, while work-
ing under acute hardship in several health
institutions. He said in some cases there
was no water to bathe a patient.
by Health Minister
Browne knocks changes to nursing act
Member for Diego Martin Central, Dr Amery Browne, at the House of
Representatives, yesterday. PHOTO: MARYANN AUGUSTE
Links Archive February 7th 2014 February 9th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page