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Police Bill in current form ‘should have never reached HoA’- Lorna G. Smith

Police Bill in current form ‘should have never reached HoA’- Lorna G. Smith

At Large candidate Lorna G. Smith OBE has said she is surprised that the controversial Police Bill, which has since been withdrawn, made it as far as the House of Assembly (HoA).

The Police Bill in its current form raises serious concerns about police being given opportunities to abuse their powers and strip the people of their human rights. Due to these concerns, the Bill-being pushed by the Governor and Police Commissioner- was withdrawn from the HoA last month.

The Police Bill in its current form raises serious concerns about police being given opportunities to abuse their powers and strip the people of their human rights.

‘Did anybody read the draft?’- Smith

Speaking as a guest on the talk show Talking Points, livestreamed on Facebook on Monday March 6, 2023, Mrs Smith said the bill should not have gotten that far, noting that thankfully it has been withdrawn.

“What surprised me though, because there was such an outcry about it…was that it got so far. Did anybody read the draft before it ended up down in the House of Assembly? It should not have gone there…and I wouldn’t even ask who drafted it because I don’t really want to know…it should not have gotten that far”, she said.

Mrs Smith added that this is another area she is concerned about, noting that there must be the capability to study and determine what is in the interest of the people of the [British] Virgin Islands (VI) as it relates to such matters.

The At Large candidate, who said she looked at some sections of the draft bill with great concern, related that this aspect was a major omission.

A more ‘measured’ bill needed- Smith

“It’s a necessity. We need a proper Police Act, but we have to temper the need to have a Police Act, with making sure that human rights are not infringed on”, the wife of former Premier Dr D. Orlando Smith, OBE said.

“For instance, I saw that there’s the lawyer/attorney/client privilege. I thought that that was infringed on, by things like the ability to listen in on conversations- with some permission- but I don’t think that that should be allowed at all”, Mrs Smith added.

Mrs Smith shared her hope that a new bill, which is “measured” and caters to the rights of all, will be put forth in the new House of Assembly.
Mrs Lorna G. Smith OBE, left, appeared as a guest on the talk show Talking Points with hosts Damian C. Grange, right, and Elvin Grant, centre, on Monday March 6, 2023.

The ball was dropped!

“This was one example of when people just dropped the ball, didn’t bother to read what was before them and it’s a good thing there were others in the House of Assembly and in the public who were vigilant enough, because there were people in the media and wherever else that talked about it,” Mrs Smith said.

Virgin Islands News Online was one of the first to highlight the concerns in the controversial Police Bill.

Addressing the House of Assembly on February 10, 2023, Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) had also indicated that the public did not request or were privy to some amendments to the Police Act 2023.

He also noted that members of the HoA did not intend on passing the bill in its current form.

Meanwhile, Governor John J. Rankin has said he hopes the HoA will return to the Police Bill after the General Election.

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