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Golding promises Evidence Bills this month

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfodh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 03, 2012    

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MINISTER of Justice Mark Golding says that three Bills amending the Evidence Act, which has been under development for several years, will be tabled in Parliament later this month.

"The Bills are now at an advanced stage of preparation... and it is my hope and intention to introduce them to Parliament during October without any further delay," Senator Golding said.

The amendments will cover a number of important issues in evidence procedure, including the admissibility of evidence via live audio-visual links from remote locations, video-recorded evidence, witness anonymity orders, admission of computer generated evidence, admission of documents by agreement between the parties in criminal matters, as well as measures to facilitate the taking and sharing of evidence across borders in matters of mutual legal assistance between states.

Senator Golding was responding to questions raised in the Senate on Friday by Opposition member Tom Tavares-Finson pertaining to the functioning of section 31(D) of the Evidence Act, which permits the admission into evidence of statements of witnesses who are unavailable to give evidence for reasons set out the Act.

Senator Tavares-Finson noted that a committee was established in 2008 by the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne and chaired by former Solicitor General Douglas Leys, which reviewed the provisions of the Evidence Act relating to the admissibility of evidence and asked what had happened to thier report.

The minister confirmed that the committee had made nine reform recommendations, and promised that a comprehensive review of the recommendations will be done.

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