Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 28, 2017 (SKNIS): The Bail (Amendment) Bill 2017 is making its way through the National Assembly as debate began on Wednesday (June 28) after the second reading of the Bill was proposed by Senator and Attorney General, Honourable Vincent Byron Jr.
The Bill was introduced to the Federal Parliament on May 23, 2017, and suggests changes to four main areas.
“The Bill would further empower the court in the exercise of its discretion to grant bail [with] the option of an additional condition to be considered in the granting of bail,” Attorney General Byron stated at the parliament sitting, adding that this requires the accused to wear a monitoring device or an ankle bracelet.
The Bill will also restrict the granting of bail for someone charged with manslaughter or murder by increasing the threshold of the burden of proof to the standard above the reasonable doubt; and also for a person who has been convicted of a firearm offense and has reoffended society with another firearm offence within a 10 year period. The fourth proposed change expands the list of offences for which “the application for bail would only be entertained by the High Court.”
Attorney General Byron said the Bill as it currently stands is in keeping with recommendations made by members of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force late last year. The suggestions called for changes to the legal framework relating to criminal justice in the Federation.
“These recommendations to amend the laws will seek to create more efficiency in the criminal justice sphere, further empower law enforcement, and strengthen deterrent effects to criminality,” he stated.
Honourable Byron added that the court will have to balance the rights of the individual and weigh it against the possibility of the accused failing to appear at court for the trial, tampering with witnesses, or committing another offence. He said the court also considers keeping the accused in custody for his or her own protection.
The attorney general added that government is convinced that these amendments will serve to enhance public safety but was quick to point out that it is one step in a multifaceted approach that is being taken to enhance public safety.