The question of bail

Thursday, December 07, 2017

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Dear Editor,

Recently, a Cabinet minister made an appeal to the chief justice on the question of the granting of bail. The chief justice, quite properly, I thought, referred that minister to Parliament — the source of the recently minted Bail Act, which I understand mandates that an accused is entitled to bail.

The interesting thing was that when this Act was passed the crime statistics were at the lowest they had been in years. I understand that the law, as it concerned bail for individuals accused of murder at that time, would only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

It is fair to say the present position is, it is only in exceptional circumstances, as enumerated in the Act, that bail can be withheld. The accused is entitled to bail.

The direct consequence of this is the dramatic increase in the number of individuals who have been killed by accused people who are out on bail.

The minister stated that 148 individuals have been killed during the course of this year. In any other country, long before the figures went into double digits, there would have been an outcry, a media storm which would have caused the Government to rethink its policy.

It is a pertinent question to ask: If the courts are releasing accused people, who then eliminate witnesses and consequently walk free, why should any accused feel the need to plead guilty?

As it stands, even in instances that the witnesses survive and testify, the jurors are tampered with.

In the unusual case in which a juror acting on behalf of the accused is caught, that trial is never brought to a conclusion.

The Government needs to get serious in dealing with crime and its punishment and stop asking irrelevant and nonsensical questions.

Donovan McLean, FCCA

danni-mackie@hotmail.com

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