Bail Bill passed in the Senate
The controversial Bail Amendment Bill was passed in the Senate on Tuesday night.
The Bill will now be sent back to the House of Representatives for debate, as early as next Friday.
The Bill, which required a three-fifths majority, was passed with the support of 15 Government Senators and seven of the nine Independent Senators.
All six Opposition senators present abstained.
The Bail (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2019 puts restrictions on bail to anyone charged for the offence of trafficking in firearms and also for the offence of being in possession illegally of a prohibited weapon which includes an automatic firearm, grenade, bomb or missile.
First time offenders held with firearms and any other prohibited weapon or accused of trafficking these weapons will be denied bail for 120 days.
These persons will be permitted to apply for bail after the 120-day period but will have to prove the existence of exceptional circumstances that warrant granting of bail.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi addressed concerns shared by the two Independent Senators abstaining from voting – Senator Paul Richards and Senator Anthony Vieira - that an innocent person could be framed for possession of a prohibited weapon and be denied bail for 120 days.
“The Prime Minister instructed me to draft a framing charge. I’m working on it right now. The Bill has been laid in the Senate already. We are proposing an amendment to the several law enforcement agencies… we’re proposing to introduce a charge and I’m giving the undertaking now that they will be introduced in the debate next week… to introduce a criminal charge for framing.”
Al-Rawi said the first draft of these amendments has already been completed.