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Mar 23, 2017

New Crime Bills Introduced

Dean Barrow

In advance of a case at the Caribbean Court of Justice next week involving two accused murderers appealing their convictions and sentences, the Government today introduced four new bills amending pieces of legislation. An amendment to the Criminal Code proposes to specify a minimum term of years in prison before person under sentence of life imprisonment of murder can be eligible for release on parole and summary trial for arson and escape. The Evidence Act is being amended to allow for oral evidence to be taken by live video link or other electronic means. The Indictable Procedure Act is being amended with new provisions on prescribed minimum sentences of imprisonment in lockstep with the Criminal Code, particularly relating to minors convicted of murder, and there is a new Parole Bill designed to enshrine the system in law. Prime Minister Dean Barrow, in moving that the bills be taken immediately through all their stages, explained the necessity of the emergency and rare cooperation with the Opposition, whose leader John Briceño said his party had no objections.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Madam Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order number forty-nine-one, I move that the Bill be taken through all its stages forthwith. I should indicate that this bill and a number of others that are being introduced, they were all prepared between the Attorney General’s Ministry and the Director of Public Prosecutions. The urgency is that there is some case before the C.C.J. which is to be finalized next week; and the Director of Public Prosecutions has indicated that the Court wishes to see that there is legislation that we would have passed to deal with the matter in a certain way. The Attorney General assures me that he sent copies of the Bill to the Leader of the Opposition and sought his understanding as to why we needed to proceed urgently and he also tells me that that understanding, he believes, was secured from the Leader of the Opposition.”

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“Madam Speaker, I was about to stand up to inform the honorable House that this is the one time that the Government and the Attorney General in this case did speak with me and explained the urgency in trying to get this done through this sitting between today and tomorrow. And then he shared with me the bills, and what I did I passed the bills to members of my party, to the lawyers with the exception of Senator Courtenay, who is involved in this case, so he wanted to stay out of it. And yes we did agree that we are not going to object, and I want to put on record that it is one time that the Government did give us the bills so that we had ample time to study the bills.”

 

The bills will be considered along with the remaining finance bills brought at the March thirteenth House meeting and the General Revenue and Appropriation Bill when the Budget debate winds up on Friday.

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