By Gary Eleazar and Tusika Martin
The National Assembly yesterday paved the way for reducing the significant backlog of Preliminary Inquiries in the Magistrates’ Court when the Criminal Law (Procedure) (Amendment) Bill was accepted by both sides of the house to expeditiously complete PIs.
The piece of legislation is simply the inclusion of an almost hybrid paper committal system that was being proposed by the Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee, and which allows for statements to be presented instead of oral evidence in the Magistrates’ Court.
Under the current legislation, for indictable matters a Preliminary Inquiry is conducted. It is supposed to be brief for the magistrate to determine whether a prima facie case has been made out, in essence, to decide if there is enough evidence for the accused persons to stand trial before a judge and jury.
Over the years, because of the upsurge in criminal activity, the system has become obsolete, paving the way for the significant backlog of cases in the Magistrates’ Court.
In light of the support for the legislation, it was pointed out that now that the way has been paved for cases to be committed to the High Court faster, the issue of more judges must be addressed.
It was pointed out that there should be at least 10 judges handling the assizes given the already backlogged High Court. The extra cases will now prove to be too much to handle for the already burdened Judges in the High Court.
The plea bargaining and plea agreement legalization was also passed without any change or challenge in the National Assembly.
After just under two hours of debate, the National Assembly passed the Bill despite two suggested amendments by People’s National Congress Reform member, Deborah Backer.
The Criminal Procedure (Plea Bargaining and Plea Agreement) Bill 2008 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 legislation will 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 the right to representation by an attorney-at-law.
Today, too, wiretapping as well as the torture motion is expected to be debated in Parliament.
Aug 09, 2020By Zaheer Mohamed It is the dream of every young cricketers to play at the highest level and while it is understood that not all of them will reach the pinnacle of the sport, one would expect that...
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