British Virgin Islands

Sunday, Aug 09, 2020

Legislators fail Bill! Controversial Police Act to now be deliberated in special committee before returning

Legislators fail Bill! Controversial Police Act to now be deliberated in special committee before returning

The controversial Police Act of 2019, which seeks to replace the current three-decade-old Police Act (Cap 165), failed to pass in the House of Assembly after getting disapproval from both government and Opposition legislators.

This is according to Premier Andrew Fahie who made the announcement during Monday’s sitting of the House.

He said: “The police [portfolio] is under the governor and I graciously brought the Act for him to the House of Assembly and the members debated on both sides of the isles. The numbers were not there to approve that Police Act.”

“The members unanimously in terms of voting, instructed me as the Premier and Minister of Finance - and I so was guided - for the Act to go in a full committee of the House, so that the concerns that the public had raised can be addressed and that is what true democracy is about,” he added.

Premier Fahie said this will be a Special Select Committee comprising all members. During the proceedings of this select committee, the Police Act will be assessed clause by clause before making a return to the public in a new session of the House of Assembly.


Concerns about too much authority

The Premier also detailed some of the feedback that was relayed to him from members of the public.

“They were concerned about certain areas that were giving policing, in their humble view, too much authority,” Fahie stated.

In a July 10 sitting of the House, senior Opposition legislator Julian Fraser outlined several sections of the Act which he said raised many concerns.

He described aspects of the Act as creating a ‘police state’ and having too many ambiguities that needed to be addressed in the proposed legislation.

Such examples included clauses 22 and 185 of the Act. The first states that police officers are not personally liable for acts done under a warrant, while the latter clause provides immunity for police officers acting under the authority of a warrant.

Fraser also called for the Premier to ensure that the public gets involved with the process of creating the new Act, a sentiment that was also shared by Opposition leader Marlon Penn.

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