Aug 08, 2008 News
Legislation to order wiretapping, as well as to allow persons accused of committing offences to enter into plea bargaining for a reduced sentence, among others, was last evening laid in the National Assembly.
According to the explanatory memorandum attached to the Interception of Communications (IC) Bill 2008, the Bill seeks to make provision for the interception of communications, the acquisition and disclosure of data relating to communications, and the acquisition of the means by which protected communications may be accessed and placed in an intelligible form.
Clauses in the IC Bill stipulates that an authorised officer may apply ex parte to a judge in chambers for a warrant authorising the person named in the warrant to intercept a communication and to disclose the intercepted communication in the manner specified in the warrant.
The judge must, before granting the warrant, satisfy himself that the warrant is necessary, and that the information obtained from the interception is likely to assist in investigations.
The legislation also stipulates that it would be the best investigative procedure and it would be in the best interest of the administration of justice to issue the warrant.
It also provides that it is an offence for a person to disclose the existence of a warrant or an application for a warrant other than to a person to whom such disclosure is authorised.
When a judge issues a warrant, he must issue directions that will ensure that the intercepted communication remains confidential at all times, and where the authorised officer obtains communications by means of a warrant but outside the scope of the warrant, he must, as soon as possible after, destroy the record that does not relate directly or indirectly to the purpose for which the warrant was issued.
The content of a communication that is obtained by interception, under the proposed legislation, is admissible as evidence in any criminal proceedings.
As it relates to the Criminal Procedure (Plea Bargaining and Plea Agreement) Bill 2008, it seeks to pave the way for the implementation of a structured plea bargaining process in the criminal justice system in Guyana.
The provisions of the Bill are designed to establish plea negotiations and plea agreements as part of the administration of the criminal justice system in Guyana for speedy disposal of cases.
The Bill allows the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) or any prosecutor, police prosecutor or attorney-at-law, authorised by the DPP on the one side, and the accused, through his attorney-at-law or by himself, to negotiate and enter into a plea agreement.
The proposed legislation seeks to reward a person who has entered into a plea agreement and is cooperating with law enforcement authorities, or whose cooperation is beneficial to the administration of criminal justice.
To ensure that the plea is voluntary, the accused is granted a right to representation by an attorney-at-law.
The legislations were tabled by Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, and stem from a recently concluded Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government meeting, where the measures were agreed.
Guyana is the first country to table such legislation in CARICOM.
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