Cornwall Bar Association says no to new bail bill | New

Cornwall Bar Association [CBA] Strongly condemns recent remarks by Legal and Constitutional Affairs Minister Marlene Malahoo Forte that those charged with murder may be denied bail under an amended bail law that the government could present soon.

Talk to the gleaner Today, CBA President Michael Hemmings denounced such a proposal as unconstitutional and a violation of a defendant’s right to due process.

“Statements made about what will happen if this proposal goes into effect go against the very fabric of our rule of law and serve as a theft mechanism to strip us as citizens of the presumption of innocence until proven. on the contrary. This is a most unfortunate statement and current plans must be immediately abandoned,” Hemmings said.

On Tuesday, Malahoo Forte told the House of Representatives that in addition to those charged with murder, those charged with firearms offenses may also not be granted bail under the bill.

“If you’re charged with murder, you can’t be free, and if you’re charged with firearms, you can’t be free,” Malahoo Forte said, while noting that the wording of some of the clauses of the current bail law is being reviewed.

In response to concerns that murder defendants could interfere with witnesses or have themselves killed while out on bail, Hemmings pointed out that the bail application process allows the court to properly determine whether an accused should be detained or not.

“The Bail Act currently states that a ground for denial of bail is if the accused is likely to commit an offense while on bail. Therefore, when considering bail, the court may make the necessary assessment whether such a person has the propensity to commit an offence, and if the answer is yes, bail may be refused,” explained Hemmings.

“However, to say that people should not be released on bail for firearms offenses or murder is unconstitutional and unacceptable.”

The proposed amended legislation is not a new idea, as the Andrew Holness administration had previously sought to take steps to change the bail law as early as 2016, to prevent those accused of murder from obtaining bail. release on bail in certain circumstances.

Previously, the Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that certain amendments to the bail law violated the Jamaican Constitution. At that time, amendments allowed those charged with serious offenses to be barred from bail for up to 60 days.

The Supreme Court struck down those changes after lawyers Norman Godfrey and Marcus Greenwood, representing two people held under bail law, argued the changes were unconstitutional, inhumane and interfered with the judge’s discretion to grant bail for certain offences. , including murder. Lawyers had also argued that the amendments took away a citizen’s basic right to bail.

Under section 4.1 of the current Bail Act, bail may be denied to a defendant if the court has reason to believe that he would commit an offense while in custody. bail, failing to attend custody as required, interfering with witnesses or otherwise obstructing the course of justice with respect to himself or another person.

Section 4.3 of the law states that a defendant may also be denied bail if it is determined that he should be kept in custody for his own safety.

– Christopher Thomas

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Message us on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at [email protected] or [email protected]

Comments are closed.