Law passed to allow Police to carry less lethal weapons

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Amendments to a Police law will allow Policemen to carry less-lethal weapons such as nightsticks, batons and clubs, chemical irritants, conducted electrical weapons, kinetic impact projectiles, and water cannons.

The law, piloted by Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn, was debated and passed with support from the former security minister Khemraj Ramjattan on the opposite side of the House on Monday.

“The use of these arms facilitates less-lethal confrontational measures by law enforcement in an effort to reduce fatalities,” the explanatory memorandum of the Bill stated.

Importantly, the Bill was passed with the removal of an earlier amendment which would have empowered the police to take DNA samples from suspects who have been arrested.

 

Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn (Photo: DPI/October 30, 2021)

 

That clause was removed although it was previously reasoned that the effect of this amendment is that in addition to measurements, photographs and fingerprint impressions, a member of the Force can take and record DNA information of a person in lawful custody for the purpose of identification.

The Bill also addressed constitutional issues relating to the tenure of the Police Commissioner and repeal of section 32 of the Police Act which gives the right of trial before a Magistrate Court.

It amends various provisions of the Act so that it complies with the Constitution.

Minister Benn said the amendments were long overdue.

“I want to thank all members, particularly those on the other side, for professing their support for these measures,” the Minister stated.

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