The Attorney General, making her contribution to the 2016/17 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on July 5, told Parliament “to successfully tackle the murder problem, some of the fundamental rights and freedoms which we have guaranteed to our people may have to be abrogated, abridged or infringed, because the evidence we are examining convince us that such action may be demonstrably justified in this free and democratic society.”
She said in light of this, discussions have already begun with the private and public Bar and the Chief Justice.
“While judicial discretion must be preserved and respected, Parliament, in the exercise of its powers to pass laws for peace, order and good government, will have to set the threshold for the consequences that will flow when people choose to murder and cause mayhem,” she said.
The Attorney General pointed out that collaborations will also be undertaken with the Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, on a number of reform initiatives.
In the meantime, she said the Government will be seeking to amend the Bail Act this year, and that several other pieces of legislation will also be amended. These include the Criminal Justice (Administration) Act, Jury Act, Evidence Act, Criminal Justice (Plea Negotiations and Agreement) Act, Firearms Act, and Offences Against the Person Act.
“Right now the sentiment is one of no bail for murder, unless self-defence arises on the Crown’s case and the likelihood of an acquittal is high. We are also thinking of abolishing jury trials for non-capital murder and go ‘judge alone’,” she said.
“These are not ordinary times, we have to act. May God grant us the wisdom to discover the right, the will to choose it and the strength to make it endure,” she said.
She informed that crime, particularly murder, has been a binding constraint to the country’s growth rate.
“This Attorney General is advising the Government very carefully. When we pass laws, they are presumed to be constitutional unless and until they are set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction, but we are prepared to pass the laws and have them tested in the courts, because we must do something about the murder problem,” she said.
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