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(CMC) – The Trinidad and Tobago government Friday said it would introduce new legislation to treat with a “new discernible anti-social criminal behaviour” in the society where homeowners and landowners are being forced out of their property by private persons and criminal elements.
It said new legislation was required since the existing measures are guaranteed protection against the state since it could be the only entity infringing such a right. The government said the existing legislation had been in effect since 1852 and last amended in 1936.
Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General, Fitzgerald Hinds, told parliament that the Trespass Amendment Bill would allow for imprisonment of 15 years and fines of TT$100,000 (one TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) for convicted persons.
He said that similar legislation in various Caribbean and international countries had been examined and that the new legislation introduces two new criminal offences, namely forcible entry and forcible detainer.
He told legislators that forcible entry would occur where a person uses force, threats or intimidation to enter land or a dwelling house “which is in the lawful possession of another person in order to expel that person and take possession of the land or dwelling house”.
He said this offender is liable on summary conviction to a fine of TT$100,000 and to imprisonment of 15 years.
Hinds told legislators that “forcible detainer” would occur where any person “who being unlawfully or in upon any land or dwelling house maintains or attempts to maintain his possession or occupation…and does so by force in a manner that would render the use of force as the only reasonable or practicable means of recovering land or the dwelling house”.
He said this offender would on summary conviction be fined TT$100,000 and to imprisonment of 15 years and that the Trespass Amendment Bill would seek to modernise the archaic parent act by increasing a number of the increasing penalties.