Bail and Jury Legislation across CARICOM received a thorough review when the Canadian Government funded Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project, hosted a video conference at the University of the West Indies, Open Campus, on November 23rd, 2017.
The meeting was chaired by Professor Velma Newton, Regional Project Director of the IMPACT Justice Project and attended by inter alia, the Honourable Justice Kenneth Benjamin, Chief Justice of Belize, other members of the Judiciary, including several judges from the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court; Her Honour Judith Pusey, Chief Parish Judge, Jamaica; members of the Magistracy; Directors of Public Prosecutions and Senior Crown Counsel; Chief and other Parliamentary Counsel; Lecturers and Tutors at Law Schools and the UWI, Faculties of Law; and Attorneys-at-Law. The meeting entailed a review of two reports prepared by Ms. Nailah Robinson, an attorney-at-law and part time tutor at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus on the status of Bail and Jury legislation in the region.
In the review of Bail legislation, Ms. Robinson highlighted issues such as whether there was a need to legitimize the work of the professional bailers/ bondsman, electronic monitoring for accused persons on bail, avenues for rehabilitation for accused persons on remand and extending the instances where persons can be released on bail on their own recognizance. It was also noted that more attention needed to be paid to the considerations to be had when the accused is a young person.
The Jury discussion was equally insightful, and much anticipated by members of the judiciary. It explored whether accused persons should be given the opportunity to select trial by jury or trial by judge, circumstances in which time limits should be imposed on jurors for returning verdicts and whether there was indeed a need to impose age limits for jurors. It was also considered why, in the age of technology, the visually impaired and deaf could not serve as jurors.
Several recommendations and areas of reform were highlighted during the course of the discussion and these will all be considered in the preparation of the final report which will be circulated for further consideration.
This videoconference was the second in the series of virtual meetings to review various works of research sponsored by IMPACT Justice. The first meeting was held in September to discuss the Rights of Domestic Workers in the region.