Beautiful Virgin Islands

Thursday, Dec 07, 2023

We’re trying to avoid underhanded policing tactics — Fraser

We’re trying to avoid underhanded policing tactics — Fraser

Opposition Leader Julian Fraser has argued that the BVI should be trying to avoid law enforcement tactics that will infringe upon the rights of residents of the territory.
Fraser’s comments were made after Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley withdrew a controversial Police Bill from the House of Assembly (HOA), which among other things, proposed to collect DNA and other ‘intimate samples’ such as semen from criminal suspects without the use of a warrant.

Governor John Rankin previously urged lawmakers to pass the Police Bill, arguing among other things, that it would help significantly in allowing the police force to employ modern techniques to solve serious crimes being committed in the territory.

But the Premier, after arguing that lawmakers could not pass the Bill in its current state, promised to return to the HOA with a ‘very small’ amendment at the next House sitting sometime next week.

The Third District Representative, in the meantime, said he was concerned about police tactics that seek to surreptitiously collect DNA samples from criminal suspects without a warrant, as is currently being done in the United States.

Fraser read from Section 31 of the proposed Police Bill which stated that any failure to follow a prescribed procedure in that section, shall not render intimate samples taken as inadmissible evidence in any legal proceedings.

He said persons can watch ‘cop shows’ to get a better understanding of what that means and described a scenario where a person’s DNA sample is taken without a warrant from a cup they drank from at a restaurant.

“We are trying to avoid that kind of behaviour,” Fraser said. “These are avoidable tactics that are followed procedurally. This section essentially allows the police to collect the above items without following the procedures, without any ramifications whatsoever. How can this be?”

“He didn’t have a warrant to get it, but he got it,” Fraser said.

Fraser said he didn’t mind persons drafting legislation for lawmakers to pass in the HOA, but argued that lawmakers shouldn’t be stupid enough to pass laws that impose draconian measures upon the people.

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