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'Stop pussyfooting with DNA law'

Published:Sunday | May 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Smith blasts Bunting over delay in getting legislation before the House

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

Derrick Smith, the opposition spokesman on national security, is not willing to entertain any more excuses from his Government counterpart Peter Bunting over the tabling of the DNA bill in Parliament.

"The Government needs to stop pussyfooting with this piece of legislation and let us have it tabled, now," Smith declared last week in his contribution to the Sectoral Debate.

Directing his comments to Bunting across the aisle in Gordon House, a stern-looking Smith said, "We have had enough of the delays.

"The development of forensic science and the ability to obtain genetic matching on minute samples of blood, skin, saliva or hair has become an essential ingredient of forensic crime fighting," said Smith.

"And Jamaica, with its record of crime and violence, cannot continue to ignore the value of this important scientific input," added the former minister of national security.

Smith reminded the national security minister that he had missed deadlines to bring the critical piece of legislation to the House of Representatives.

According to Smith, the bill was first promised by Peter Phillips while he held the national security portfolio in 2006.

Smith said a first draft of a Cabinet submission was done in mid-2007 and passed, and drafting instructions issued in 2008 under the then Jamaica Labour Party administration.

"In light of all this, it surprises me that the current minister told the nation that the first time he received a draft of the bill was in November 2012. Where was the bill for a whole year?"

He said Bunting gave the country an assurance last year that the bill would be tabled in January, this year. "Five months later, we are being told by the minister that he is still waiting on the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel to provide the final document."

Smith also wants Bunting to update to the country on his plans to introduce ShotSpotter technology for gunshot detection as well as body cameras. He said the Police High Command had requested two years ago that they should be provided with this important device.