Remand problem

Chief justice calls for abolishing preliminary inquiries

Abolish preliminary inquiries in the magistrates’ courts of Barbados.

That is what Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson wants the Freundel Stuart administration to do without further delay.

Addressing the opening of the 2014/2015 legal year this morning, Sir Marston said the existence of preliminary inquiries (PIs) had created a remand problem that has now taken on international implications.

“For some time now, we have been promised an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act, which would abolish PIs and that committals for indictable offences would be done entirely on paper,” Sir Marston told judicial officers, lawyers, and jurors.

Noting that such legislation exists in Antigua and has been tested before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, he said the Privy Council held there was no constitutional right to a PI.

“There is therefore no judicial reason why we still have PIs and the consequential remand problem. There is a reason why I bring this up now. Last Friday, I received a letter from one of our High Commissioners concerning a national of that country, who has been on remand [here] for 39 months,” he disclosed.

The Chief Justice noted that while his investigations showed that many of the adjournments were sought by the prisoner’s lawyer, he was of the view that it was not fair to the accused and the presiding magistrate to have to deal with a matter that could be easily resolved.

“Moreover, it now has international implications for the way Barbados is perceived. I am especially unhappy with the fact that this is perceived as a court-created problem, when it can be resolved with a stroke of the parliamentary draftsperson’s pen . . . or word processing programme,” asserted Sir Marston.

“So if I can end these remarks with a request, it is that the legislation abolishing PIs be enacted as soon as possible.”

He explained that when a person is charged with an indictable offence, the Criminal Procedure Act provides that an indictment can be issued only in two ways.

“Namely after a preliminary inquiry conducted by a magistrate, or by a voluntary bill issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions with the consent of a High Court judge. Neither of these is very satisfactory because both the magistrates and the judges are already overburdened.  It means that magistrates have, as part of their 20,000 cases, preliminary inquires which they ought not to have,” declared the chief justice.

Minutes before he addressed the court, Sir Marston joined Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith, judges, magistrates, lawyers and court staff at a service at the St Mary’s Anglican Church, to mark the official opening of the legal year.

In his sermon, Society and the Judiciary Together: Let Us Live To Make Our People Free, Dean of the St Michael’s Cathedral Frank Marshall called for equity in the dispensing of justice.


6 Responses to Remand problem

  1. John Herbert
    John Herbert September 9, 2014 at 5:18 am

    Is it true that the male population at Dodds is close to 1,000 and approx. half of those are on remand?

  2. Tony Webster September 9, 2014 at 6:46 am

    May it please The Court, M’Lud: I’m totally confused. One might rashly presume that there was a good, logical, sensible reason(s) … which served the principles of Justice..or of barristers and Solicitors…(or all two of the above) …why Preliminarary Inquiries came into the first place. Yes? No?
    These recent excursions into various roads leading-off the highway of jurisprudence into rather dim alleys, therefore tempt me to recall the wisdom (or otherwise) of making the symptoms fit the diagnosis. Or to “get a better grip”on this one… To make the the sentence.
    If it please the Court, M’Lud.

  3. Tony Waterman September 9, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    It seems to me here again, that our Distinguished Chieg Justice is holding the Proverbial “Bull” by the tail, Here in my Canadian Jurisdiction (Similar Laws) there is Something called “”DISCOVERY) which i am ASSUMING is the Same as Barbados’ “”preliminary inquiries”” and in THIS Jurisdiction it works pretty well.(Personal Experience)
    What the OBVIOUS PROBLEM is in Barbados has been ALLUDED to in this very Article.
    QUOTE:-“”The Chief Justice noted that while his investigations showed that many of the adjournments were sought by the prisoner’s lawyer”” End Quote.
    Therefore the Chief Justice SHOULD be looking at ways to make both the CROWN and the DEFENSE Attorneys come to court on the prescribed date prepared to have the case dispensed with in an effficient manner.
    An Adjournments should only be given if the Attorney can prove that there was not enough time to consult with his/Her Client, and there should only be ONE (1) Adjournment per case.
    My suspicion is that these Attorneys in Barbados are not working enough in TEAMS and as such they are overburdened (Too May Cases) which makes for adjournments of one case in order to attend to the other case, which repeats itself ad infinitum, and result HUGE BACKLOGS, and persons being held at Dodds for UNDUE lengths of time, due to no fault of their own.
    We NEED a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT Guaranteeing Persons in our Judicial System, THE RIGHT TO A SPEEDY TRIAL.
    Section Eleven (Section 11(c)) of the Canadian Charter of Rights
    and Freedoms, Stipulates that “
    11.(b) Any person charged with an offence has the right…
    to be tried within a reasonable time;

    In the USA, The Speedy Trial Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy . . . trial . . . .”[1] The Clause protects the defendant from delay between the presentation of the indictment or similar charging
    instrument and the beginning of trial.

    In addition to the constitutional guarantee, various state and federal statutes confer a more specific right to a speedy trial. The prosecution must be “ready for trial” within six months on all felonies except murder, or the charges are dismissed by action of law without regard to the merits of the case.

    If Barbados is as often presented as a World Class Country, Why is it that we are so far behind so many Judicially, and why are we so BLATANTLY VIOLATING so Many Persons BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS ??

    This Right to a Speedy Trial which is Clearly Still absent in Barbados in 2014 had been around for Eons and has been usen in our Former MOTHER COUNTRY since the 12th century.

    The right to a speedy trial is an ancient liberty. During the reign of henry ii (1154–1189), the English Crown promulgated the Assize of Clarendon, a legal code comprised of 22 articles, one of which promised speedy justice to all litigants. In 1215 the Magna Charta prohibited the king from delaying justice to any person in the realm.

  4. Arther Lashley September 9, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Rotten to the core and as corrupt as ever.
    The whole Barbados legal System .

    Be carefull how you meddle ,the system will fall apart in your hands.

    Have you ever seen or heard of ANYONE receiving a fair trial in Barbados?

    Ego bloated Judiciary, a totally Corrupt DPP.

    ALL Ignored by the Politicians.


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