MPs to debate giving criminals’ cash to community groups
Legislators are set to debate a bill which would facilitate the transfer of cash obtained through crime to community groups.
The Proceeds of Crime Amendment 2013, sponsored by Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley, will set the stage for fulfilling the One Bermuda Alliance’s election promise to implementing a “Cash Back for Communities” programme using monies confiscated from criminals.
The bill provides for disbursing the funds from the Confiscated Assets Fund to support community-based organisations and sports clubs.
It stipulates the organisations must be registered as a charity under the Charities Act 1978. And sport clubs are defined as organisations dedicated to “a particular sporting activity which is regulated by a sport governing body in Bermuda”.
If passed, the legislation clears the way for organisations to receive the funds “on the approval of the Minister responsible for legal affairs and the Minister of Finance”.
Amendments to the Human Rights Act will not be debated today as expected by advocacy groups.
Community Development Minister Wayne Scott, who tabled the measure on May 17 said the bill was still being reviewed following concerns raised about a new clause expanding the definition of prohibited harassment.
“The proper thing to do is to take a step back and take a second look and I really support the Attorney General in doing that,” he said.
Advocacy groups Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda and Centre for Justice have raised concerns that an exception to the general prohibition of harassment could legalise police harassment.
Attorney General Mark Pettingill has said he now expects the bill to be debated on June 14 following his review.
Mr Scott rejected a suggestion that the issue called into question Mr Pettingill’s ability.
“Absolutely not. There is absolutely no question as to the ability of our Attorney General. I think we have one of the best attorney generals that we have ever had.”