BVI, Caribbeanand International News

HoA to meet today Feb 10, 2023; Controversial Police Bill on hold

HoA to meet today Feb 10, 2023; Controversial Police Bill on hold

The Third Sitting of the Fifth Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) will convene at the Save the Seed Centre, in Duffs Bottom, Tortola, today Friday, February 10, 2023, at 10:00 AM.

However, the controversial Police Act 2023, which our news site was the first to bring to light in an article on February 3, 2023, entitled ‘Police Bill 2023 raises red flags & makes way for police abuse of rights’, will not get its second and third readings at today’s Sitting.

Premier and mover of the controversial Police Act 2023, Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) will not proceed with the Bill until further consultations and amendments are made.

First steps to change the Bill

Instead, the Premier and mover of the Bill Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) will not proceed with the Bill until further consultations and amendments are made.

The HoA convened an informal meeting yesterday, February 9, 2023, and there were discussions with Drafters from the Attorney General's Chambers, top police brass and Members of the Police Welfare Association. The Commissioner of Police Mark Collins was noticeably absent as it was reported he is overseas. It is unclear whether he is on official or private business.

In addition, none of the UK Police Officers who are pushing this bill in its current form were at the informal meeting with legislators at the Richard Stoutt Building in Road Town, the capital city.

Commissioner of Police Mark Collins was noticeably absent from the HoA informal meeting yesterday, February 9, 2023, to discuss the Police Act 2023, and as it was reported he is overseas.

Police state if Bill passes in current form

Legal minds and ordinary citizens have warned that the Bill in its current form will turn the Virgin Islands into a police state, as it will take away rights and liberties from residents. The current Bill allows the police to take fingerprints, foot impressions and DNA without someone’s consent and without a warrant. They can then keep the information for seven years on whether or not a crime was committed.

The same Bill in its current form allows the police, even UK Officers, to search residents’ dwellings without a search warrant, access communications between lawyer and client and allows the Police Commissioner to implement a cordon whenever he or she sees fit.

The controversial Bill also allows the police to alter the right to silence, and allows the courts to draw negative inferences from a person exercising their right to silence. Currently, no negative inferences can be drawn from a person wishing to remain silent.

It is our understanding that before the Bill gets second and third readings, it will go back to the public and the Police to inform them of the changes made, including input from the BVI Bar Association.

The HoA sitting will be aired LIVE on House of Assembly VI Youtube; House of Assembly of the Virgin Islands Facebook; 780 AM ZBVI Radio; CBN-Radio (90.9 FM); FLOW TV Channel 101; and CCT TV Channel 291.


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