Several of the provisions that were rejected by lawmakers and residents in the controversial Police Bill that was withdrawn months ago from the House of Assembly (HOA) should be returned for consideration once again.
That was the position recently expressed by Governor John Rankin
, who commented that he regretted some of the discussions that surrounded the Bill at the time it was being moved through the House.
“Those provisions in the Police Act which were not passed by the House of Assembly, I think [need] to come back,” Governor Rankin said. “I very much regretted some of the dialogue around the Police Act claiming it was non-human rights compliant. I simply don’t think that’s true.”
The Bill had faced tremendous pushback from members of the public and lawmakers in the HOA after several of its provisions were deemed to be too excessive and invasive.
Among the more concerning provisions of the Bill that was introduced was the empowerment of police officers to conduct searches and to take DNA evidence — including blood, urine and semen samples — without the aid of a warrant.
Lawmakers ultimately passed a watered down version of the Bill that would allow police to secure DNA samples from persons, without the inclusion of the draconian measures that had been rejected.
Standard in democratic countries
But Governor Rankin pushed back on those arguments and contended that he would never give assent to a Bill that was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, which he noted also applies in this territory.
The governor explained that a number of the provisions which were being objected to are simply standard provisions within democratic countries around the world.
“The suggestion made that the police can’t enter a home where they believe violence may be about to take place, or domestic violence may be taking place without having a warrant to enter into those homes in emergency situations, I think is simply wrong,” the governor added
He further expressed that this demonstrated an incorrect balance between human rights and public safety, which are civil liberties that both himself and the Commissioner of Police will always want to protect.